Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple Bully school principals and departmental officers can bully Australian teachers into ill health - and out of work!

Wilcannia Central School had a history of problems. 

Wilcannia Central School had a horrific year in 2005, when 55 students were suspended and one-third of teachers left.


In August 2010, 35 community members signed a petition primarily against Ms N., the Wilcannia Central School principal.

The signatories to the petition were concerned about the alleged serial bullying and harassment of several staff members.

Some parents favoured a former acting principal.


It was alleged that a male student had grabbed a female teacher around the neck and verbally abused her.

Principal N. was alleged to have failed to discipline this male student.


It was also alleged that a male student had threatened to rape a community elder as she walked out of the school grounds.

And that this student escaped censure.

Bullying claim inquiry at Wilcannia school, Heath Gilmore, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 August 2010 


The husband of one NSW Head Teacher tells his family's story about accepting a transfer to Wilcannia Central School.

A husband of a NSW teacher has published a letter to Adrian Piccoli, NSW Minister of Education, explaining how his wife's transfer to Wilcannia Central School has impacted on their family.

In December 2015 The C. Family were living happily on the Central Coast.

In December 2015 Mrs C was Acting Head Teacher at Hoxton Park High.

She enjoyed her work at Hoxton Park High.

But Mrs C was allegedly contacted 'out of the blue' by the Principal and Deputy of Wilcannia Central School.

They allegedly begged Mrs C to take up a position at Wilcannia Central School.

They allegedly told her that they needed her skills in Wellbeing and procedures and policy.


The C. Family discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the job at Wilcannia. 

 * Mr C had a full-time job with the local council as a truck driver.

 * Their eldest daughter was in the selective stream at a local high school.

 * Their middle child was in an Opportunity Class at a local public school.

 * The eldest two girls were having orthodontic treatments at Wyong. Moving these treatments to Broken Hill would cost about $1200.

 * They were living in a long-term rental property, close to family and friends.



 * They thought the transfer would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in an area of Australia that few people have the chance to experience.

 * Mrs C would have the chance to obtain a permanent position as Head Teacher.

 * She would also expand her experience with Aboriginal education and culture.

 * The family would receive extra allowances for living at Wilcannia - it is an 8 Point Incentive School.

 * For three years they would have very low rent to pay and this would allow them to save for a house of their own. This was very important to the family.



Mr C. hired a truck and, over a week, made three return trips between the Central Coast and Wilcannia, moving all the family's belongings.

Most of the costs of the move were reimbursed, but the father estimates that it still cost the family $2300 in out of pocket expenses to move to Wilcannia.

What is living in Wilcannia like?

600 people live in Wilcannia.

More than 80 per cent (and growing) of the population of Wilcannia are Aboriginal.

Up to 90 per cent of the population of Wilcannia are unemployed.


Of the 100 children enrolled at the Wicannia Central School -

30 children (approx) go to school 66 per cent or more of the time.

70 children (approx) go to school 65 per cent or less of the time.


There is a very high turnover rate of teachers.


Heavy drinking, drug abuse and domestic violence are rife in the town.

In the shanty Mallee section on Wilcannia's high side, whole family groups spend afternoons in boisterous drinking on dole day.

Adults are paralytic.

Young children pick their way through the ruins.


Men released from jail return just weeks later.


Male life expectancy is 36 years.


There are only a handful of functioning businesses in the town - a roadhouse, a grocer, a couple of motels.

They all have non-indigenous owners.

Grand structures from the colonial days are boarded over, roofless or covered in corrugated tin.


Turning a bad town around, Stephen Fitzpatrick, p 17, The Weekend Australian, 10-11 September 2016

The house in Wilcannia.

The family were allocated a Teacher Housing Authority House.

Police and nurses in Wicannia live in communal compounds with fences and security.

But not teachers.

Housing for teachers in Wilcannia is 'inadequate and unsafe'.

Mr and Mrs C's family were allocated a 3-bedroom house on a block that was accessible on all four sides.

The low fences around the house could easily be jumped.

The house had no working alarm.

There is no mobile phone reception.

The family would discover that they could not leave the house even for a day to go shopping in Broken Hill without coming home to damage or theft.

At first things went well.

For two terms all went well.

The family were accepted by many in the local community.

Mr C got a job!


Then the Wilcannia Principal was replaced with a temporary Principal.

This temporary Principal was allegedly "totally unsuited to the job".

Mrs C allegedly experienced bullying and was isolated.

The family were under great stress.


Workplace bullying allegations at Wilcannia Central School.

The ABC reported that at least four Wilcannia Central School staff members felt that they had been bullied by other staff in recent months.

Some staff members are on stress leave because of their experiences.

Complaints about the workplace culture have been made to the Department of Education.


A Wilcannia resident who is familiar with the school alleged that staff members had been witnessed both in the school and around the community -

 * treating each other with disrespect,

 * calling out profanity,

 * making rude gestures,

completely ignoring the presence of others.


"There's a large number of the town's population that are unhappy with what's been happening there."

Community concern has been prompted by some well-regarded staff leaving the school or facing an uncertain future there.

"The community are so disappointed that year after year they watch the good teachers being chased out of town," the Wilcannia resident said.


Wilcannia local Kevin Whyman is one complainant.

Mr Whyman was contracted to film students speaking the local Barkindji language for posterity.

Then he was told that there was no more funding for the job.

Mr Whyman alleges that he was filmed by a staff member without consent as he tried to leave the school on his last day.

He requested a complaint form and was refused one.

"I had three workers standing around me like they were ready to attack me," he said.


 Staff bullying allegations emerge at isolated far west NSW school, Sophie Wainwright, ABC Broken HIll, 12 December 2016

The department 'investigates' the situation at Wilcannia.

A departmental 'investigation' into the situation at Wilcannia allegedly found nothing was wrong.

But the departmental 'investigator' had not even met Mrs C.!


At the very end of the school year Mrs C was given a 'forced' transfer to Dubbo.

How the 'forced' transfer to Dubbo will impact on Mrs C's family.

The family have had to cancel their Christmas plans.


The community know that the family are leaving.

Since the end of term the family have had their lawnmower and Christmas Lights stolen.

Rocks have been thrown at their vehicles, causing damage.

Abuse has been hurled at them in the streets.


They have no family or friends in Dubbo.

Mr C will have to find another job.


The family will lose their rental subsidy.

They will lose their allowances.

They will have to pay for trips to Broken Hill so the two eldest girls can see their orthodontist.

They have been financially ruined.

Their dream of home ownership has been lost.


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It may help other teachers who are dealing with workplace problems.

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