Parent Rights – Who Should Decide?

In the wake of the sex abuse scandal in an Adelaide primary school, SAASSO was flooded with calls from furious parents, outraged at the conduct of the government. The blame game which followed further disgusted parents, now wondering if such a thing has happened in their child’s school.

In November, on behalf of parents, SAASSO wrote to the education minister, both expressing community dismay that this was kept secret for two years and asking that parents be directly involved in deciding what rights they have.

In January, SAASSO received a reply – which vaguely acknowledged that SAASSO had made a proposal, but failed to answer or address it – reiterating previous State Government media comments.

To read previous comments on this story, and for a list of the relevant media coverage, click here.

Letter to minister

Government response

SAASSO Bulletin

In November 2012, SAASSO’s proposed a parent panel to the minister.

In January 2013, SAASSO received a response from the government.

SAASSO’s February 2013, bulletin to members.








*We may not be able to publish all comments and we may edit some comments to ensure their suitability for publishing.


  1. Typical

    Comment by C. A — February 7, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

  2. I thought this government was pushing for transparency. Apparently not where our children’s well-being is concerned. This non-disclosure to parents is enabling the abuse. How can we expect victims to speak up if the government is shrouding the issue in secrecy and shame? The victim is never at fault, and should never be made to feel that they are. The parents are also victims in this case and should therefore be able to find out immediately any suspicions, and have a chance to seek help for the children and themselves. Whatever happened to Duty of Care? These children and their families were certainly not looked after. What happened to the Government funded advertising about “Breaking the Silence”.

    Comment by L. Nigro — February 7, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

  3. While it is good they commit to some further/better communication with parents through SAASSO, the rest of the letter is a big pile of blah! I wonder what the change in Minister will bring…

    Comment by Ana — February 7, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

  4. Great idea saasso. A parent panel is exactly what is needed and is the only way to have policies that aren’t corrupted by politics. How can weatherill justify dismissing parents this way?

    Comment by Matt B — February 7, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

  5. Rann is gone but the arrogance is still there. His government hides this for 2 years but Weatherill still patronizes parents.

    Comment by Jamie L — February 7, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

  6. I often wonder how governments, ministers, ministerial staff, CEO, staffers view their job specifications. Here is an example of a volunteer-based parent organisation offering the government a “Get Out Of Jail Card” to address issues of child sexual abuse and complete lack of control and awareness. Please correct me if I’m wrong but the Minister totally ignores SAASSO’S suggestion/support/offer … Jay Weatherill, what sort of government are you running?

    Comment by Richard Murray — February 7, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

  7. Well said SAASSO. How can the Weatherill government in conscience deny parents this right?

    Comment by Belle M. — February 7, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

  8. Jay Weatherill you have no respect for parents

    Comment by Sarah — February 7, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

  9. Lauren Hindle you picked it. All you got in response was a press release.

    Comment by Fed Up — February 7, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

  10. Thanks saasso. Your letter sums up exactly how parents at my school feel. We are fed up!

    Comment by Lindy — February 7, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

  11. What a disgraceful letter from the Weatherill Government. SAASSO, they have treated you and all parents with utter contempt.

    Comment by Ellie — February 7, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

  12. The government covered up the sexual abuse of a child. If it wasn’t for the parents, the truth would never have come out. But the government and not parents should decide the right course for the future?

    Comment by John — February 7, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

  13. SAASSO’s plan is appropriate, practical and fair. No wonder the government ignored it.

    Comment by Bob C. — February 7, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  14. Independent review. What a joke. The only people who did the right thing in this whole disgusting episode were the parents. Want to bet the independent review will barely acknowledge them let alone endorse them!

    Comment by Kass — February 8, 2013 @ 7:59 am

  15. “If the department had stayed out of the way and let parents do their job this would never have happened”. Hear hear!

    Comment by Lou — February 8, 2013 @ 8:52 am

  16. A panel with equal parents and bureaucrats. What could be more fair?

    Comment by Catie — February 8, 2013 @ 9:04 am

  17. SAASSO your big mistake with this proposal was that it could some good and actually make schools accountable to parents. The education department and THIS government would never allow that. Gutsy try though.

    Comment by D. Reynolds — February 8, 2013 @ 9:08 am

  18. the victims here have effectively been violated again by the government. add this to the appalling state of our education system and and one can see it is no wonder the sense of hopelessness and despair in so many of our young people and their families today.

    Comment by Gail mckeown — February 8, 2013 @ 9:16 am

  19. What an offensive letter from our government.

    Comment by Kirsty — February 8, 2013 @ 10:06 am

  20. I see Mr. Weatherill’s government treats the parent organization with the same respect his department treats parents in schools. Does anyone remember just after the last election when labor vowed to reconnect with the people? When does that start?

    Comment by John TS — February 8, 2013 @ 11:03 am

  21. Well said Gail! Politics and careers aside I just cannot understand how these bureaucrats don’t have a greater sense of responsibility. We entrust our children to them, they betray that trust and then their only focus is justifying themselves. SAASSOs letter was spot on: when a child has been exposed to a sexual predator, the first priority must be to tell their parents. It’s just common sense!

    Comment by Matt B — February 8, 2013 @ 11:25 am

  22. You can be sure Jay doesn’t dismiss the teacher’s union like this.

    Comment by Linda — February 8, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

  23. I am astounded that this even requires discussion – the government should be begging SAASSO for their involvement. Who else is going to speak for us parents?!

    Comment by Stephen — February 8, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

  24. Stephen you are 100% right. If the government wanted to fix this broken education system they would knocking down saasso’s door to get the truth about what is happening. A truth they will never get from the education department. But that won’t happen. They don’t want to know.

    Comment by Debra — February 9, 2013 @ 7:31 am

  25. This government doesn’t want to know what parents think. They want to tell us what to think. And then they want us to shut up.

    Comment by Gracie also fed up — February 9, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  26. I’ve been on school council for 8 years. Most of the time were ignored or lied to. If any good has come from this it’s showing how the department bullys parents at every turn. And that makes Weatherills attempt to blame the volunteers so pathetic. Jay it shows how ignorant and hopelessly out of touch you are if you thnk YOUR education department allows governing councils to decide ANYTHING!

    Comment by Dave — February 9, 2013 @ 9:03 am

  27. Dave’s right. Jay if you want to cut bullying in half clean out your education department.

    Comment by Annie — February 9, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  28. Mr. Weatherill’s response to SAASSO was disgusting. A genuine governments first call would have been to SAASSO, to call a crisis meeting to work out how to fix a clearly broken system and start to live up to their endless broken promises to public school parents. How shameful this government believes it is acceptable to treat parents this way.

    Comment by Brendon — February 9, 2013 @ 11:45 am

  29. Every time you think you’ve heard it all our state government comes up with something new. The premiers office together with the ministers office and who knows how many ‘experts’ at the education dept. knew that children were being sexually abused and the kept it secret. Department staff then went out of their way to silence well-intentioned volunteers. For two years parents weren’t told that a paedophile had been ‘caring’ for their children. And now all these people who kept this horrible secret say it should be left to them to decide what rights we have??? Mr Weatherill how stupid do you think we are?

    Comment by T. Smith — February 9, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

  30. Parents having a say in when they are told if a pedophile has been with their child … what a radical idea!

    Comment by Jason R. — February 9, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

  31. Where does the state government get off telling parents they aren’t fit to decide what’s best for their own child! Put me on a panel and I won’t be worrying about politics or covering my own ass. All ill be thinking about is how stop kids bing molestedat school! You can bet this isn’t happening in jay and graces kids schools!,

    Comment by Simone — February 9, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  32. ‘Independent’ inquiry. What a joke and more tax money down the drain. Jay if you have any decency just sack EVERYONE involved in this coverup. And grace you just lost 5 votes in the seat of Hartley at the next election.

    Comment by Michael of Tranmere — February 9, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  33. I want to commend SAASSO for trying to help and for speaking up for parents. Mrs. Hindles letter was written from the heart of a responsible and angry parent and I know how she feels. We have had trouble in our primary school for three years and no matter how much we complain we are ignored by the principal and everyone at the education department head office. We are just so frustrated and we have nowhere to turn. I wish we could pack up and leave adelaide. Even though the government has ignored you like they ignore us at least we know it isn’t just us and at least someone is trying to get them to listen.

    Comment by Darren P. — February 9, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

  34. Parent rights? What a joke! Our public schools are teacher retirement villages. It shows you what labor thinks of parents by how they think a letter like this acceptable. They would never write like this to the union!

    Comment by Mark in a swing seat — February 9, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

  35. That’s why jay and his cronies will never let you on a panel simone! They only way they will ever involve parents will be if this gets into the paper, coz that’s the only it they do anything. Why didn’t they start is inquiry two years ago? Why didn’t portholesi start it a year ago when she first found out? And if they ever do let parents have a say, you can bet they will pretend it was their idea and SAASSO won’t come within a country mile of it. The last thing weatherill wants is an organised group of parents that he can’t control … They might start expecting out kids to actually learn something.

    Comment by Con — February 10, 2013 @ 6:53 am

  36. I thought labour was supposed to be the party of he working man! You’ve sure abandoned our kids. Michael of tranmere grace has lost votes here in magill as well.

    Comment by Nathan of magill — February 10, 2013 @ 9:03 am

  37. Even the premier said the education department is rotten at the core! They treat patents like something they stepped in. They think we should shut up and be grateful for what we get like the education our kids get in their schools is something to brag about. Now those same people who created this mess are gonna to fix it? Teachers complain the kids are badly behaved … looks like the department could do with some discipline! You’ve had ten years labor. When are you going to do something?

    Comment by Erin James — February 10, 2013 @ 11:47 am

  38. Should we be more concerned that the education minister ignores SAASSO … or that she can’t spell ‘SAASSO’?

    Comment by David — February 10, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

  39. LOL David! Is it any wonder our kids can’t spell when the minister is stumped by an acronym?

    Comment by Sam — February 10, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

  40. We need a royal inquiry into south Australia’s education department. This is only scratching the surface. The culture is rotten. The service delivered is substandard. But jay has an election to think. He won’t admit how bad things have become under his government. So it will be swept under the carpet with a couple of sacrificial lambs and our children will keep suffering.

    Comment by Mandy — February 10, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  41. She missed a letter of ‘organisations’ too. does portolesi even know what SAASSO is?

    Comment by Scottie — February 10, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

  42. Jay you sacked your last CEO because of the shocking state of the education department. The new guy has done nothing in two years. How many more years does he get before getting the chop? As hard as it is to believe things have gotten even worse since the last guy left!

    Comment by Jim — February 10, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

  43. Decd has a CEO?

    Comment by Rebekah — February 10, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  44. The minister isn’t clear on your name and can’t spell your acronym – you guys at SAASSO must be feeling the love!

    Comment by Mick — February 10, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

  45. Portholesi only got the job coz she’s a friend of Weatherill.

    Comment by Larry — February 10, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

  46. I bet she has no trouble spelling AEU.

    Comment by Belinda M. — February 10, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

  47. The ministers letter to SAASSO is no surprise. Any parent with a child in a SA public school who has experienced a problem with their child’s education knows this attitude.

    Comment by Alex — February 10, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

  48. From the premiers office to the schools front office nobody can be trusted.

    Comment by Sally — February 10, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

  49. I am on the school council at my child’s school and as far as I am aware we were not consulted in relation to this matter. At the very least there should be representation in the review of this matter from a % of school governing councils (a majority of members who are volunteer parents). The school governing council in this case (child sex abuse scandal) was put in a terrible situation when decisions were made by DECD not to notify parents. If DECD is going to continue to expect school councils to keep important safety information from parents then they will find it difficult to get volunteers on school governing councils.

    Comment by Kerryn — February 11, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

  50. Yes parents have rights and so do teachers as does the every day person ……we have the right to the presumption of innocence til proven guilty! OK peadophiles exist and we the school community need to protect our children but with the education departments lack of policy and bumblings do this for this indicent & the opposite for similar incident but in a green leafy suburb to what happens in a northern or southern suburb is what?????
    Time for the department to have CLEAR guidelines that they follow and that parents know how to access and understand!

    Comment by Janeen K Henschke — February 11, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  51. I would like to know if asked what the politicians would think if their child had been sexually abused and they were not told about it, I would imagine there would be public outrage and it would go to parliament far sooner than this case has.

    If I were the parent, I would sue DECD for negligence!! We as parents have the right to know what is happening to our children in schools as we all go off to work or what ever we do and think our children are safe……………………………

    I have so much compassion for the parents of the children in this case.

    Comment by P L — February 11, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

  52. How is it that in this case the Minister decides the actions of a (School Council run) OSHC for them, when in cases of OSHC industrial relations and employment the Minister hides her head and states that it is all the sole domain of Governing Councils. This seems like double standards and choosing to opt in only when it seems to benefit her. As soon as there’s real risk, she denies any real responsibility and leaves GCs to fend for themselves.

    Comment by RMP — April 10, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

  53. NAPLAN tests are at the wrong time of the year. They should be at the end of the year so we know how our children have progressed that year.

    Comment by Sally Bowman — May 31, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

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