4 MARCH 2019
As the independent statutory authority responsible for the regulation of teachers in Victoria which contributes to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, VIT is responsible for investigating serious misconduct and fitness to teach and, if necessary, referring these matters for a formal, informal or medical panel hearing where appropriate.
Hearing Panels consider matters referred to them by VIT, and are comprised of members who are independently appointed by the Victorian Government.
Here is information about two recent VIT disciplinary cases.
Evidence in an investigation by VIT of former Victorian teacher Julian Taylor was used to support a successful prosecution by Victoria Police, which resulted in the former teacher being sentenced to a term of imprisonment in November 2018.
In mid 2015, VIT became concerned that Mr Taylor was using a number of identities not previously disclosed. VIT commenced an investigation and discovered that Mr Taylor applied for teacher registration using false identity documents, and failed to disclose previous names as well as convictions for indictable offences committed under those names.
VIT CEO Peter Corcoran said in August 2015, a Hearing Panel declared Mr Taylor’s teacher registration status cancelled.
“As part of a cooperative partnership, VIT provided its investigation material to Victoria Police at the conclusion of the formal hearing,” Mr Corcoran said.
On 20 November 2018, Mr Taylor was jailed for using fake documents to gain teacher registration in Victoria. He was found guilty of four charges of using false documents, seven counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception and one charge each of perjury and making, using or supplying identity information.
“The VIT works closely with Victoria Police to ensure all registered teachers are suitable to teach,” Mr Corcoran said.
“From the weekly police checks against all 130,000 Victorian registered teachers to the in-depth five-yearly Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checks, right through to sharing information on cases like Mr Taylor, VIT and Victoria Police work together to ensure only those with high character teach our children and young people.”
“Mr Taylor’s jail sentence serves as an important reminder of our role as a regulator tasked first and foremost with protecting the safety and wellbeing of our children.”
A Hearing Panel recently handed down findings on former Victorian teacher Shane Osmond, declaring his teacher registration status cancelled, with a five-year period of disqualification.
In April 2017, VIT received a notification from the Victorian Department of Education and Training regarding Mr Osmond’s conduct, which had alleged systematic emotional manipulation and improper conversations with a student comprising sexual innuendo. Mr Osmond’s registration was suspended pending the investigation.
Following the recent amendment to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, VIT now has formal and important responsibilities to consider the wellbeing and safety of children (including taking into account community expectations) when exercising its regulatory functions.
The Hearing Panel found that Mr Osmond systematically attempted to engage a student in sexualised and highly personal conversations; gave the student gifts; offered free driving lessons; and generally behaved in a manner that went beyond the expectations of how a teacher should conduct themselves.
VIT CEO Peter Corcoran said after considering the evidence in this case, the Panel found that Mr Osmond failed to maintain a professional relationship with the student.
“In the course of the hearing, the Panel found Mr Osmond’s behaviour constituted a substantial departure from the expectations of a member of the teaching profession and therefore amounted to serious misconduct,” Mr Corcoran said.
The Hearing Panel found Mr Osmond’s behaviour to be characterised by a pattern of growing familiarity to the point of obsession, loss of objectivity and a desire to create what he himself described as ‘an indestructible friendship’.
Mr Osmond will be able to reapply for teacher registration after the disqualification period, however his suitability to teach will be thoroughly investigated as part of VIT’s normal application process.
For more information on the case specifics or how VIT investigates teacher conduct, click here.