Bad Apple Bullies

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

Don't work for them!

The Northern Territory Department of Education is the worst in the country.

Save your sanity and career and never work there!!!!!!



NT remote principal allegedly chases student with cattle prod.

February 2016 :The Northern Territory News reported that a remote area principal was being investigated for allegedly  -


a) presiding over a culture of staff intimidation and bullying,

b) taping a 'troubled' and 'naughty' girl to her  desk to stop her going to the toilet.

(The NT news reports that multiple sources claim to have seen a photograph of the child taped to the desk.)

c) chasing an eight-year-old disabled boy across the school oval with a cattle prod.

The boy is understood to suffer from learning difficulties as a result of foetal alcohol syndrome.


The cattle prod had been sent to the school when it was dealing with a wild dog problem.

The NT Education Department has now removed the cattle prod from the school.


The principal's lawyer, Merran Short, said in a letter to the NT News that the problem was not with the principal, but with the people who  complained about the principal's behaviour.

They were, she said, 'disgruntled'.


An independent investigation was conducted into the alleged incidents.

The Department advised The NT News that the investigation report's findings would be considered "to determine further action required".

"It is a complex investigation with a number of different matters and personnel involved"


9 August 2016 : The NT News asked the Education Department why the principal had not been stood down pending potential criminal charges.

11 August 2016 :  The principal was placed on leave.



NT Police investigate principal after student allegedly taped to desk, Craig Dunlop, NT News, 15 August 2016.

Principal accused of chasing student with cattle prod to remain at school after investigation finishes, Hayley Sorensen, NT News, 28 March 2016

Female teacher in a remote NT community is raped by an 18-year-old man and then by a 16-year-old boy.

In April 2015 a female teacher working in a remote community was returning home from exercising.

A 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man  dragged the teacher into the bush by her hair.

She suffered bruising to her skull from her hair being pulled during this attack.

They then forced her to give them both oral s-x.

After the assault the 16-year-old said, "Sorry miss, it wasn't my fault".


The boy was sentenced to six years in prison.

He will be able to apply for parole after four years of his sentence.


Webmaster comment : What I find shocking about this story is that it has received so little publicity in Australia.

The Australian people need to know about the living and working conditions for teachers, nurses, police, etc. in these remote communities.


Teenager who raped teacher jailed in Northern Territory, Alexandra Fisher, ABC News, 26 November 2015

Darwin teacher : Education department staff numbers should be trimmed.

I'm a teacher, and if I could just teach, I'd be more than happy.

But there is so much cr_p forced on us by an ever-increasing, pointless bureaucracy that it sucks pretty much all the satisfaction out of the job.

Education departments should be seriously trimmed.

Every year there's some new scheme being driven by some new bureaucrat, which triples our paperwork for 12 months - before we move on to the next one.



Steve of Darwin, Reader's Comment, Why are so many teachers fleeing the classroom? Brooke Lumsden, , 8 October 2015

Northern Territory teacher attacked by student.

January 2015 : One Northern Territory teacher was reportedly attacked by a student.

The teacher suffered a "whiplash" injury.

She spent weeks recovering from the injury.

She had to claim worker's compensation.


There are an average of three attacks on teachers in the Northern Territory each week.


Palmerston and rural area schools see almost 50 per cent hike in physical assaults , Katina Vangopoulos, NT News, 20 January 2015

General Manager of Human Resources, Northern Territory Department of Education, makes public apology to teacher Stephen Ferguson.

Angurugu School on Groote Eylandt : closed after several attacks on teachers.

Angurugu School on Groote Eylandt was closed in May 2013 after -

 - a female teacher had to be flown out after a student threatened to rape her,

 - another student tried to choke a 66-year-old male teacher.

 - the principal's window was smashed with an axe,

 - a teacher suffered a broken hand after a student threw a chair and table at her,

 - a teacher was left bleeding after a bite,

 - a staff member was stabbed in the leg with sharpened pencils,

 - and a teacher was hit on the neck from behind with a baseball bat.


The Northern Territory Education Union says violent assaults happen daily and weekly in remote NT schools.

The union claims the Education Department is covering up the violence because they want to maximise attendance statistics.



When the horrific is mundane - Part IV, Tony Thomas, Qadrant OnLine, 9 May 2013.

Daly River school : school staff punched.

A Daly River school had to be shut down until further notice in February 2013 after two female staff were punched in the face.

One woman, 56, lost a tooth.

Another woman, 66, was hit on the side of her face.

The principal and eight unhurt staff were rushed from the community because of fears for their safety.

The alleged assailant was an indigenous woman.



When the horrific is mundane - Part IV, Tony Thomas, Qadrant OnLine, 9 May 2013.

Milingimbi school : six staff struggle to restrain student with tomahawk.

In March 2013 a Milingimbi (Northern Territory) school student threatened teachers with a tomahawk.

The student had to be restrained by six staff and given three doses of sedatives.



When the horrific is mundane - Part IV, Tony Thomas, Qadrant OnLine, 9 May 2013

"The Northern Territory Education Department covers up assaults on NT teachers. It uses the Code of Conduct to prevent teachers from speaking out in the media."

Northern Territory Education Union president Matthew Cranitch says violent assaults were a daily or weekly occurrence in remote Territory schools and accused the Education Department of covering up the problem.


Mr Cranitch said in the past month a female teacher had to be flown out of Angurugu, on Groote Eylandt, after a male student threatened to rape her.

A 66-year-old male teacher was choked by a student at the same school.

"It's really alarming," he said.

"Teachers feel very worried and unsafe.

"There are constant threats of violence and constant abuse.

"These incidents are happening everywhere."


Mr Cranich said the Northern Territory Education Department covered up the assaults on teachers and used its code of conduct to prevent teachers from speaking out in the media.


Mr Cranitch said one of the reasons the NTED ignored violence in remote schools was they were too focused on improving attendance rates among indigenous students.

"What they're saying is we're prepared to accept some of these issues as long as you get them to school," he said.

"There's so much pressure to get attendance up that they're prepared to look the other way."


Editor's Comment : this union president is doing the right thing by his members - telling the truth about what is going on in NT schools.


Teachers live in fear of assault, Nicole Mills, 3 April 2013 :

Dr Robert Bartholomew : How the Northern Territory Government deals with teachers who raise concerns about asbestos in their schools.


Burn Notice:   A Study of Corruption and Blacklisting in the Northern Territory Education Department  

By Robert E. Bartholomew, PhD, Editor of the Teachers With Integrity website :    

  • Sealed documents the NT Government does not want you to see – revealed in the public interest (and believe me, it’s a real eye opener).  These documents reveal how the NT Government shoots down complaints from teachers and whistleblowers.
  • How DET Blacklists Teachers. 
  • Why the new 'Teachers Unfit for Further Employment’ Policy is a Joke. 
  • How DET exposed Schoolchildren to asbestos, then covered it up. 
  • We reveal a list of government employees - you be the judge of their conduct!

Can you trust the NT Teacher’s Union (the AEUNT)?



Copies of this book will be distributed to every major university library in Australia and New Zealand to become part of the historical record, and globally. 

Copies available in early 2011 for AUS $9.95 to cover publishing costs. 

Any proceeds will be donated to Indigenous charities. 

To order, e-mail Robert E Bartholomew  :

CARD : Fight Back! - a Campaign for Accountability and Responsibility in the Department of Education and Training - Northern Territory Government

CARD : Fight Back! (Campaign for Accountability and Responsibility in DET) is a website that has been established to support Northern Territory teachers :


NT Teachers who are dealing with workplace problems will find a wealth of self-defence ideas on the CARD website -

* Why you need a digital recorder,

* Blogging tips from Reporters Without Borders,



Please let your friends know about this website if you have a Twitter or Facebook account : 

NT teachers deserve better working conditions!

NT contract teacher : after two years of contract work, I have missed out on being made 'permanent'.

I am a contract teacher and have been so for the past two years in the Northern Territory.
I missed out on being made 'permanent' due to the freeze that was put on these offers at the beginning of 2013 and so did some of my colleagues.
We have lost our jobs.
There are 6 contract teachers at my school who have lost out.
Not-Happy-Jan of Darwin, Reader's Comment 29 of 40, Teacher cuts shock: the real deal , Ben Smee, NT News, 14 October 2013 :

Northern Territory teacher : I was thrown to the wolves.

I have been working as a teacher for the last 6 years, with my first year teaching being a pretty bad experience.

I was working in the Kimberley region as a graduate, 2500km away from all my support systems, and was metaphorically thrown to the wolves.

The attrition rate of the graduates at that particular school during the first term was almost 40%.

I have spent the majority of my teaching career working in lower socio-economic schools, trying to teach children who have had very difficult starts in life and then the schools they are sent to are so poorly resourced that they are expected to learn by using materials that in other sectors would have been put to rest many years ago, if not decades before.


Kate, Reader's Comment, Hey politicians, leave those teachers alone, Jane Caro, The Drum, ABC News, 11 March 2013 :

The culture of the department is rife with bullying.

How can you stop violence in Northern Territory schools when the culture of the NT department of education is rife with bullying?


The Haze of the Las Vegas Hilton of Malak, Reader's Comment, Teachers slam Education Minister, Nicole Mills, NT News, 9 May 2013

Husband of Northern Territory teacher : my wife works very long hours. It is hard on family life.

My wife is an NT teacher and the amount of work that she does after hours is huge.

She works till late each night and also on weekends.

It is hard on family life.

NT departmental senior officers need to get their fat -rs-s out of Head Office and see what NT teachers have to put up with in and out of the classroom.

NT teachers do a great job, and for the amount they get paid - well, this is another story.


Husband of teacher of Darwin, Reader's Comment 60 of 74, Teachers slam Education Minister, Nicole Mills, NT News, 9 May 2013

Northern Territory teacher : it is a nightmare working in NT schools.

It's a nightmare working in NT schools.

If we aren't ducking flying objects (ie. flying baseball bats) we are dealing with incompetent administration at all levels.

And when a school gets it right, these gorillas dispose of the principal and replace her with an incomptent micro-manager from carpet land who doesn't know her -rs- from her ankle.


DNR of Darwin, Reader's Comment 45 of 74, Teachers slam Education Minister, Nicole Mills, NT News, 9 May 2013

Angurugu School : four charges of assault reported.

At Angurugu School four charges of assault were reported to the community policeman.
Charges were filed, then the files disappeard a few days later as the assailants were "too young".
Not too young to assault teachers.
What message does this give to teachers and the community alike?
Nothing changes in these communities.
Every community I go to has a moderate to major problem with violence against teachers covered up by principals and DECS.
Relieving NT teacher, Reader's Comment 56 of 86,  Teachers live in fear of assault, Nicole Mills, 3 April 2013 :

Mother of remote teacher : teachers are really vulnerable - they are so alone and exposed to assault, threats and false allegations.

'Self determination' is a major failure.
Teachers are assaulted and threatened with violence every day at Angurugu (I have seen it).
This school does not even have inter-class communication, or communication devices for teachers on yard duty (alone).
If a teacher needs assistance, or needs to contact another class, they have to send a student or assistant teacher.
Robina Cosser says : This mother is right - all Australian schools urgently need CCTV and emergency alarms or phones.
I was once trapped in a double classroom in a Cairns school while a drunk parent was raging around the other side of the room shouting "This is sh*t, this is!"
I had no way of communicating with the school office.
There was only one small door at the far side of the room and I was afraid to try to evacuate the children in case this caused the parent to become even more violent.
Mother of remote teacher who is doing an awesome job of Warragul, Reader's Comment 39 of 86, Teachers live in fear of assault, Nicole Mills, 3 April 2013 :

Teacher's father : ten young men broke into my daughter's accommodation in a remote NT community.

Our daughter worked her first day in (Editor's Note : seems to be either Milingimbi Community Education School or Angurugu).

She went back to her accommodation.

Broken into early in night and confronted by ten young men inside the house and three on the veranda, with nowhere to run except back to bedroom or stand and protect herself.

This was reported to all persons concerned.


The incident happened on 19 April 2012.


Concern, Reader's Comment 77 of 86, Teachers live in fear of assault, Nicole Mills, 3 April 2013 :


There are relentless attacks on Northern Territory teachers' credibility, rumour mongering and character assassinations - by senior teachers!

It's not just students doing the bullying in Northern Territory Schools, there is also bullying by teachers.
There are serious cases of senior NT teachers threatening other teachers with deregistration by TRB and writing false reports of behaviour to DECS.
There are relentless attacks on credibility, rumour mongering and character assassinations that bring skilled teachers to the brink of ability to cope in a toxic environment.
Some of these NT teachers end up on stress leave, move interstate, overseas or to private schools to escape.

Elfroar, Reader's Comment 74 of 86, Teachers live in fear of assault, Nicole Mills, 3 April 2013 :

"I worked in a remote school where teachers were attacked and threatened a lot."

The Northern Territory Ed Dept definitely ignore violence against their teachers to get bums on seats.
I worked in a remote school where teachers were attacked & threatened a lot.
First thing we had to do was file a confidential media brief with DECS & promise not to talk about it so they could cover it up & knew how to minimise the damage to their reputation.
They don't care about the safety of teachers really, its just lip service.
Remember the teacher who had his leg amputated!!!
Dave Arnold supporter of Darwin, Reader's Comment 9 of 86, Teachers live in fear of assault, Nicole Mills, 3 April 2013 :

"Remote teachers in the Norhtern Territory are on edge 24/7 after feeling threatened at work and at home."

There is a of lack of basic maintenance to Northern Territory teachers' staff housing.
We have been waiting quite a while for security lighting to be installed after having people trying to enter our house at night on numerous occasions.
Remote teachers & health staff are on edge 24/7 after feeling threatened at work & at home.
High staff turnover is a contributing factor on the poor results by NT students.
Spouse of a disillusioned remote teacher, of Community Life, Reader's Comment 2 of 86, Teachers live in fear of assault, Nicole Mills, 3 April 2013 :

Incidents in schools are covered up by the head office bureaucrats.

The bureaucrats will still cover it up if they want to - and all to make themselves look good.
Every time an incident is reported it's covered up - and this has been the case for at least the last 20 years.
Prior to that, those with a long memory would recall a few senior people in head office who did take the trouble to respond and support teachers.
(Most of them have since been removed!)
Former bureaucrat, Reader's Comment 68 of 86, Teachers live in fear of assault, Nicole Mills, 3 April 2013 :

Young teachers - it is not worth the risk - you cannot be protected in these remote communities.

I  hope this will be a message for young save-the-world teachers to realise this is just not their issue.

It would be nice to save the children but it is not worth the emotional and - as we can see - potentially physical harm you are setting yourself up for.

You cannot be protected in these environments.

Leave it for the government to train up Aboriginal teachers to go and save their own and listen to Marcia Langton who says the kids should be shipped into the cities to boarding schools.


HDDon't of Australia, Reader's Comment 16 of 33, Principal, teachers flee Nganmarriyanga School after two staff punched, Northern Territory News, 2 March 2013 :

Nganmarriyanga school is shut down and the staff rushed from the community due to fears for their safety.


One woman, 56, lost a tooth when she was struck in the mouth.

Another, aged 66, was punched to the side of her face.


The principal and eight unhurt staff members were rushed from the community due to fears for their safety.


One of the injured women was flown to Royal Darwin Hospital.

It is unknown where the other was treated.


Education Minister John Elferink said he hoped to re-open the school, on Palumpa Station, next week.

"Staff could be returning on Monday," he said.



School closed after women punched, NT News, 28 February 2013 :

64-year-old Teacher David Arnold of Katherine High School : one boy slammed him in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Then a second boy jumped from a table onto his leg.

Northern Territory teacher David Arnold, 64, has had an artificial leg fitted and is now walking for 70 minutes twice a day.

"I'm getting used to it," Mr Arnold said.

The award-winning special needs teacher has had 10 operations, including three knee replacements, since being assaulted by three teenagers at Katherine High School in 2008.

"I don't remember much about the incident," he said yesterday.

"It all happened so quickly."

Mr Arnold was in charge of a pre-school class when he tried to confiscate mobile phones from the trio of boys, who were aged 13 and 14.

One boy slammed him in the chest, knocking him to the ground and another boy then jumped from a table on to his leg.
Mr Arnold was medivaced to the Epworth Hospital in Melbourne.
His leg was amputated 10 months after the attack.
Mr Arnold, who is now living in Victoria, said he arrived to the Territory in 2003 full of idealism.
"I wanted to help indigenous students," he said."But it wasn't until I got here that I realised the size of the problem."


Mr Arnold hopes to return to teaching one day.


Teacher learns to walk after attack, Nigel Adlam, 11 December 2012 :

Katherine High School : "Excellent" teacher's leg amputated after an unprovoked attack by students.

Northern Territory Teacher David Arnold, 65, is learning to walk again after losing a leg during an unprovoked attack by his Northern Territory students.

Mr Arnold, who trained in special education, moved to the Northern Territory from Kyabram, Victoria,  in 2002.

"Like everybody else, you look at what your next step is going to be. And, like most teachers, you think you are going to save the world," Mr Arnold said.

"I moved to the Territory thinking I was going to turn things around for the indigenous school kids."

Several years into his stint at Katherine High School, he won a teaching excellence award."

It was one isolated incident on April 22, 2008, at 7.15am, that changed my life," he said.

A group of students came into the classroom.

An altercation ensued, and they jumped on his leg.

He was found on the floor by a fellow teacher and taken to hospital.

He endured 10 operations in an effort to repair his leg and treat infections.

"When I came to Melbourne, I had two choices: lose my leg, or I could die," he said.

In February 2012, at the Epworth Hospital, his leg was amputated.

Mr Arnold has decided that after the past four hellish years, he may eventually return to teaching.

"I would like to think that I could go back and serve some meaningful purpose," he said.


After school attack, it's a step at a time for teacher who lost a leg , Lucie van den Berg, Herald Sun, 10 December 2012 :

Northern Territory High School teacher : submission 253 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying.

Submission 253 to the 2012 Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying is by a Northern Territory High School teacher working in a remote Aboriginal community : S.F (PDF 1,137KB)

Teacher 253 alleges that the Aboriginal school principal threatened to "Kill me, hang me from the trees, spear me and have ... family / brothers come and burn down my house".

Teacher 253 alleges that he / she had to call the Northern Territory CEO (Gary Barnes) personally before he / she could get airlifted (together with two other members of staff) out of the community to safety.

Teacher 253 also alleges that he / she then had to become an official government whistleblower to try to get some legal protection from the 'myriad of retaliatory actions' that were being taken against him / her.

Gapuwiyak School : The principal threatens to spear Stephen Ferguson, Australian Education Union representative, and burn his house down.

At Gapuwiyak School in Arnem Land, teacher and Australian Education Union representative Stephen Ferguson, 41, complained about the school principal "borrowing" money from staff.
The principal, Shirley Nirrpurranydji, 56, was considered one of the "star" figures in Northern Territory education.
She said she would spear Stephen Ferguson and burn down his house.

A Teachers' Registration Board investigation found the allegations were true - but the Education Department didn't sack Shirley Nirrpurranydji.

Ms Nirrpurranydji was told not to do it again.


Mr Ferguson, who now works on the Tiwi Islands, said the Education Department had turned on him because he had the courage to make a legitimate complaint.

"I was the teachers' union representative and a whistleblower," he said.

"Staff were upset at being pestered for money. The loans weren't really loans - the money was never paid back."


"This is extraordinary. A school principal threatens to kill one of her staff and nothing is done about it until I go to the police."


Mr Ferguson said he took the threat "very seriously" but was transferred to another school only after calling Education Department head Gary Barnes' office.

Ms Nirrpurrandydji no longer works as a teacher.


Spear threat to NT teacher, Nigel Adlam, NT News, 24 January 2012 :

The Australian Education Union submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying : almost every NT teacher has been bullied at work. The bullies do what they want.

The Australian Education Union's submission to the Australian Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying says almost every Northern Territory teacher has been a victim of workplace bullying.

The AEU's Territory president Matthew Cranitch says when teachers complain about their colleagues' behaviour, very little is done to remove the bullies.

"Despite the intervention of the union, despite the complaints through the department, no action is taken," he said.

"So if anything, they become stronger, their bullying becomes more intense and they see themselves as people who simply cannot be reined in, so they'll do what they want."


Union seeks more support for bullied teachers, ABC news, 24 September 2012 :

Sanderson High School, Darwin : teacher has to be rescued from student "swinging blows into the woman's abdomen".

On 27 August 2012, a Sanderson High School student had to be pulled from his teacher as he swung punches into her abdomen in a classroom.

The man who pulled the student away did not want to be named, but spoke out about the incident on 105.7 Breakfast to highlight the problem many teachers in the Northern Territory face.

"When I arrived yesterday there was screaming and abuse being yelled down the corridor so I went to see what was happening and saw a woman being punched and attacked in the corner," the man told 105.7 Breakfast.

He said he went to assist the Sanderson High School deputy principal and restrained the student with a wristlock then moved him into another room until he calmed down and police were called.

"I was shocked, I've seen assaults before in various jobs but this was particularly nasty, the bloke was swinging blows into the woman's abdomen," he said.

"She did appear to be unharmed at least visually, I would imagine she was fairly traumatised though," the man said.


President of the Northern Territory Education Union, Matthew Cranitch, said the incident is not an isolated one, and is happening with increasing frequency around the Territory.

"In Katherine last week I was speaking to a teacher who was assaulted in her primary school class last Thursday."

"It's bordering on the edge almost every day." 

"Some of these students are very big, they're very strong," Mr Cranitch said.


Student pulled from teacher in classroom attack, Clare Rawlinson, ABC, 28 August 2012 :

Australian Education Unon : Northern Territory Branch : NT teachers' rising use of emergency medical evacuations because of suicidal behaviour.

Submission 77 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying is by the Australian Education Union : Australian Education Union (PDF 960KB)


"The AEU Northern Territory Branch reports a rising use of emergency medical evacuations in isolated or remote communities where bullying has resulted in severe depressive illnesses and victim suicidal behaviours." 

Northern Territory Teachers' Union : NT teachers and principals are reluctant to report assaults on teachers to the police.

Northern Territory Education Department figures show there have been 24 assaults on NT public school teachers in the first six months of this year.

The Northern Territory's Education Union says the NT Government needs to change its policies about the reporting of assaults on school teachers.

The union's Matthew Cranitch says the NT Government's definition of a serious assault is vague and schools should be required to notify the police when incidents occur.

"There also needs to be a situation where the police are notified of any violent episode, that it's not left to the principal to decide whether they call the police or not."

The union say that many serious assaults on Northern territory teachers are not reported to the police.

 "What we're finding is that many teachers are very reluctant to report attacks because they believe they're may not be action taken or it might affect their career."

"Or secondly, in many cases, schools or principals are trying to downplay some incidents so therefore aren't reporting it in the usual fashion."



Union seeks change after 24 teachers assaulted, Myles Morgan, ABC, 30 July 2012 :

Teaching at middle school level in the Northern Territory is horrendous.

Northern Territory teachers are subject to abuse almost every day in our middle schools, maybe not physical but certainly verbal.

Teaching at middle school level is horrendous, with very little respect given to teachers, and not for lack of wonderful teachers either.

Teachers have no redress but to send the student to the principal (if they will go) where maybe they will get some minor contract to behave well.

Give NT teachers more powers.


Tanya of Darwin, Comment 2 of 64, Classroom war zones, David Wood, NTNews, 24 March 2012 :

Angurugu school in the Northern Territory - children are bringing machetes to school.

An 8 year old girl bought a machete to Angurugu school the other day!

The week before that a boy did.

Then his mother threatened suicide at the school grounds.


Overwhelmed! of Alyangula, Comment 4 of 64, Classroom war zones, David Wood, NTNews, 24 March 2012 :  

What happens when students assault a teacher? They get a few days of vacation.

Chris Burns is clueless.

As a teacher, I do believe in inclusive education, but it is just getting ridiculous.

These students commit assaults against teachers and other students, and what happens?

They get a few days of vacation, and then are back at school.

Some kids just don't belong in a regular classroom.

There needs to be alternatives.


DE, Comment 8 of 64, Classroom war zones, David Wood, NTNews, 24 March 2012 :

Northern Territory teachers are bullied and treated with contempt by many students.

Northern Territory teachers are bullied and treated with contempt by many students, then told to shut up and cop it or lose their livelihoods by those higher up.

That's the NT Education Dept's dirty little secret.


Time to speak out of Darwin, Comment 14 of 64 Classroom war zones, David Wood, NTNews, 24 March 2012 :

I worked at a Northern Territory school where the students stone each other - and their teachers.

I worked at a bush school last year where kids of all ages stoned each other and their teachers, as well as bringing weapons to school and threatening each other.

It was the saddest thing I have ever seen, apart from the parents who not only condoned the behaviour, but were the role models for it.

Many incidents were not reported because it would look bad on the school management team.


Gone from the beautiful Territory because of violence, Comment 50 of 64, Classroom war zones, David Wood, NTNews, 24 March 2012 :

Centralian Middle School : student twists female teacher's arm. Violence against NT teachers has become the sad new 'normal'.


During (what seems to have been) the first week of the 2012 Northern Territory school year, one Centralian Middle School student threw a rock at a teacher.

Another Centralian Middle School student twisted a teacher's arm so badly she was forced to take leave.


The Northern Territory Country Liberal Party leader Terry Mills said that widespread violence against NT teachers had become a "sad" new level of normal.


"The behaviour needs to be responded to, not the (student's) excuse," he said.


Action Needed on Teacher Attacks, Ellie Turner, NT News, 8 February 2012 :

If the school principal is weak, the teachers will be exposed to abuse.

Teachers are limited by the support that they receive at their school.

If you have a weak, insipid principal, then don't expect support.

The Northern Territory education system supports thugs, bullies, bogan parents, etc.

Teachers should press charges when accosted by parents or students.

That will soon sort out unsupportive principals, departments and systems.


Murray of Darwin, Comment 66 of 82, Action Needed on Teacher Attacks, Ellie Turner, NT News, 8 February 2012 :


Many Northern Territory teachers are afraid to speak up.

Too many Northern Territory teachers are scared of losing their jobs or are being bullied.

Job security is witheld because teachers are on temporary or short term contracts.

Permanency is often not given until you have 'proved yourself'.

Those who speak up - Surprise! Surprise! Their contract is not renewed.


It is a disgrace!

I have decided enough is enough.

I can no longer shut up.

The Northern Territory Education Department is out of control.


Carolyn Reynolds, Comment 57 of 82, Action Needed on Teacher Attacks, Ellie Turner, NT News, 8 February 2012 :

Northern Territory teachers who speak out are seen as 'malcontents'. They are marked people.


The Northern Territory Department of Education hasn't changed in 30 years.

Teachers like David Arnold (whose leg was amputated) and Stephen Ferguson et al are seen as 'malcontents'.

Anyone who speaks out in cases like these is a marked person.


Harry V. Dirchy of Gove NT, Comment 51 of 82, Action Needed on Teacher Attacks, Ellie Turner, NT News, 8 February 2012 :


Teachers are paid to teach, not to be abused.

Teachers who, as a last resort, take the matter to the papers will automatically be sacked by some schools in Darwin.

It is true that teachers are effectively gagged from speaking up about this and other vital matters of importance that the general population should be aware of.

Making anonymous calls to papers would be, I guess, an act of desperation, but one which robs the whistleblower of integrity.

Teachers are paid to teach the curriculum, not to be abused.



Nutmeg of Coconut Grove,  Comment 24 of 82, Action Needed on Teacher Attacks, Ellie Turner, NT News, 8 February 2012 :

Northern Territory Teachers are gagged - they can't even talk privately on any education related matter.


The Northern Territory Department of Education effectively has teachers sign a gag order - they aren't even allowed to talk privately on any education related matters.


Bob of Tiwi, Readers' Comment, Action Needed on Teacher Attacks, Ellie Turner, NT News, 8 February 2012 :


Principals who don't support their staff are the main contributors to the problem in Northern Territory Schools.

How can you expect children in Northern Territory schools to behave when a school principal won't issue a school based consequence when a 14 year old boy slaps a female teacher in the face?

When she condones children swearing at teachers by blaming the teacher?

When she tells her staff to go to the police and lodge an assault charge if they don't like her decision?


It's principals like this, who don't support their staff, who are the main contributors to the problem in Northern Territory schools.

It's principals like this one that won the Northern Territory Principal (Award ?) 2011.


Discouraged NT teacher of Palmerston, Comment 82 of 82, Action Needed on Teacher Attacks, Ellie Turner, NT News, 8 February 2012 :

Workplace bullying and assaults are swept under the carpet in Northern Territory schools.

Well done Mr Ferguson.

But don't expect the department or the union to do anything.

Like you my school had a very lumpy carpet where they kept sweeping bullying and assaults under the carpet.

Move on and hope the b-st-rds don't follow.


Top Territory Teachers of NT, Reader's Comment 69 of 81,  Spear threat to NT teacher, Nigel Adlam, NT News, 24 January 2012 :

Ex Northern Territory teacher : Stephen Ferguson is right. There is a problem in NT schools. Teachers are being bullied and traumatised by their experiences.

As another Northern Territory remote teacher (ex) I can vouch for teacher Stephen Ferguson's statement (above).

It happens time and time again.

The only difference is this man stood up for his rights.

When it happened to me I was so bullied and traumatised by the Northern Territory ED Dept that I am no longer able to work as a teacher.

Years after the events I still am suffering from PTSD.

All I did was try to teach Indigenous kids, who loved coming to my class.


Done My Time of Maningrida, Reader's Comment 75 of 81,  Spear threat to NT teacher, Nigel Adlam, NT News, 24 January 2012 :

Why do the Northern Territory government allow remote NT teachers to be bashed and abused?

Why oh why do the Northern Territory and Australian Labor government allow this sort of thing to keep on happening?

Teachers who are willing to work in the remote community schools should be applauded, not abused.

Hundreds of remote NT teachers have been abused in this way.

And, after reporting it to the NT Ed Dept, they are "got rid of" no more contracts no more work.

The Education Department in the NT seems to be the most incompetent in Australia.

No wonder the education of NT children is 'at risk


Another bashed up ex teacher of Darwin, Comment 20 of 81,  Spear threat to NT teacher, Nigel Adlam, NT News, 24 January 2012 :

Northern Territory teacher allegedly 'terminated' after trying to protect another teacher from assault by an indigenous student.

A non-indigenous teacher with 38 years of service to education was terminated by the Northern Territory DET after he intervened in a physical assault by an indigenous boy against a teaching colleague.

The teacher's Termination was justified because it was claimed the incident 'brought DET into disrepute'.


Joe S of Barunga, Reader's Comment 42 of 81, Spear threat to NT teacher, Nigel Adlam, NT News, 24 January 2012 :

Northern Territory teachers are sacked if they complain about being bullied and traumatised.

So many remote Northern Territory teachers are bullied and traumatised.

Then they are harassed and sacked when they complain to an incompetent NT Ed Dept.

Teachers think they have human rights.

It seems NT teachers don't.


John and Doni of Gove, ex teachers, Reader's Comment 74 of 81,  Spear threat to NT teacher, Nigel Adlam, NT News, 24 January 2012 :

Northern Territory : students seem to enjoy the power of fear they hold over teachers.

Serious assaults on teachers by students in Northern Territory schools happen every week and are routinely covered up, the Australian Education Union says.

Australian Education Union NT president Matthew Cranitch, who had worked with Mr David Arnold on the teachers' union executive for several years, said David's case (see story below) was symptomatic of the deep-seated violence in Territory schools.

"I have got concerns that the assault on David was not directed to police, given the seriousness of the injuries to David," he said.

Mr Cranitch said the violence in Northern Territory schools was widespread and systemic.

"Just last week at the Centralian Middle School in Alice Springs, a rock was thrown at a teacher, which caused quite an extensive injury," he said.

Murray Waycott, a former teacher at Katherine High School who befriended Mr Arnold, said many students "enjoyed the power of fear they held over adults by the violence".


Violent assaults on NT teachers 'covered up', Michael Owen, The Australian, 7 February 2012 :

Katherine High School : special education teacher allegedly assaulted by students - teacher's leg to be amputated.

David Arnold was a 64-year-old Northern Territory Teacher of the Year award winner.
He had been working in Katherine High School's special education unit since 2003.
One day in April 2008, David was preparing his classroom before his first lesson of the day.
A student asked to be allowed into the classroom to play on the computer before class began.
When David turned his back the boy opened a sliding door and let two other students into the room.
David told them all to leave.
The students, aged 13 and 14, allegedly assaulted David, jumping and stomping on his leg.
David has since had nine operations to try to save his leg.
The operations have failed.
David's leg will be amputated on Monday 6 February 2012.
The school did not report the alleged assault to the police and so the matter was not investigated by the police.
No charges have been laid against the students.

Teacher to lose his leg after assault, Michael Owen, The Australian, 1 February 2012 :

The Northern Territory : teachers burned out and distressed by their work in remote Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.

... She looks a little anxious and fidgets. As soon as I ask the first gentle question, the remote schoolteacher starts sobbing, shoulders shaking, holding her face in her hands.

The words, once they start, come spilling out.

As a GP, I think, "Oh no, here we go again."

... Another sick certificate or period of stress leave. Another professional, whether nurse, teacher or doctor, burned out and distressed by their work in a remote Northern Territory Aboriginal community.

The undermining of self-confidence and self-worth associated with a sense of failure is profound.

... This epidemic is kept a secret - don't let the romantic vision of the red earth and deep culture fool you. Yes, it can be an adventure and a life-changing experience, but the costs can be high.

We may start out thinking we may be able to contribute, to be part of the solution for the appalling health status, the low literacy levels, the violence, the alcoholism.

The bright, dedicated professionals for whom high standards and ethical practice are core values tie themselves in knots trying to provide the best care for their charges.

Challenging the managers and administrators of the system, who often have dubious qualifications and skills, added to the burden of isolation, difficult living conditions and lack of support, takes its toll.

There is a pervasive culture of bullying, a lack of accountability and a laissez-faire "she'll be right, mate" attitude.

After all, this is the Northern Territory. ...


Ameeta Patel, this (burned out) life, Lifelines, P.4, Review, The Weekend Australian, 25-26 June 2011 :

Kormilda College, Darwin : teacher assaulted twice by student.

An indigenous education teacher at Kormilda College, Darwin, has been punched in the ribs by a student.

A  teacher said a student punched teacher Vicki Bourke in the ribs because he didn't want to do his work.

The Kormilda teacher said there was a second instance where a student knocked Ms Bourke's glasses off her face, causing some bruising around the eye.

She said the two instances were unrelated.


Editor's comment : You have to wonder how many more times this student is going to be allowed to assault this teacher.


School punch anger, Meagan Dillon, 6 April 2011 :

Nightcliff Middle School : 60-year-old relief teacher punched in the face in front of the class, and then stabbed a number of times.

Michael Bell, a 60-year-old relief teacher was in his first week at Nightcliff Middle School.

A 14-year-old boy had heated words with Mr Bell during class, then allegedly went back to his desk and pulled out a knife.
Then, in front of the class, the student allegedly punched Mr Bell in the face before stabbing him a number of times in the arm and once in the leg.
Mr Bell was taken to Royal Darwin Hospital about midday
Sources said the boy had a history of "concerning" behaviour at Nightcliff Middle School.

"It isn't the first incident that he's been involved in ... he's apparently smashed windows and thrown chairs around the room before."


"On a weekly basis at the union we're getting calls from concerned teachers worried about students exhibiting behaviour that's not consistent with a normal mainstream class environment," Australian Education Union Northern Territory boss Mathew Craitch said.


Student stabs teacher in class, Alyssa Betts, NT News, 23 March 2011 :

NT schools are safe, despite stabbing, AAP, The Courier Mail  :


Editor : There are several interesting (and very, very Darwin) comments on this story -


As a teacher, I am well aware of this problem.

Teachers lack the tools to be able to discipline these children sufficiently.

As others have said, they lack respect as they know they can get away with pretty much anything.

It is very frustrating to be told to F___ off and be able to do almost nothing about it - as most principals are pushovers.

Something is deeply wrong with our society, and it is only going to get worse as educators are simply not able to discipline students.


Frustrated teacher, Reader's Comment 95 of 114, Student stabs teacher in class, Alyssa Betts, NT News, 23 March 2011 :


Frustrated teacher is right.

When you ask students to do something (reasonable and phrased as a request) the eye-rolling, muttering under the breath, swearing, blatant refusal etc etc is just astounding.

If you say ANYTHING to them, let alone touch them - you will be sacked.

Parents jump in and defend their kids, apparently no kids ever do anything wrong.

Thank God for parents who are realists and have taken the time to teach their kids values. They are the reason people still teach!


Another frustrated teacher of Darwin, Comment 99 of 114, Student stabs teacher in class, Alyssa Betts, NT News, 23 March 2011 :

Kormilda College, Berrimah, The Northern Territory : aluminium scaffolding used as weapon in massive brawl.

Unconfirmed reports said aluminium scaffolding was used as weapons.

At least six people were injured, including one who had teeth knocked out in the fight.

Police were called to disperse the violent crowd.


The incident followed complaints from parents in March that there were rampant problems at the Kormilda College's boarding houses.

Parents told the Northern Territory News that physical punch-ups happened "every day", smoking, drugs and drinking was rife, and stealing was prevalent.

The Northern Territory : cronyism, bullying, intimidation and harassment is across the whole of the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training ( DET ). Their motto seems to be DENY DENY DENY.

Cronyism, bullying, intimidation and harrassment is across the whole of the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training ( DET ), not just the teachers and those in remote communities.

I am talking about every single corporate division across the agency at ALL levels.

I have come across A LOT of people that agree.

DET has a lot to answer for and the whole department needs an overhaul, not just a change of Chief Executive.

The corporate divisions have a lot to answer for.

Instead of dealing with issues in regard to staffing they prefer to sweep it under the carpet similar to their black lists for teachers and getting rid of said people to wipe their hands clean.

I think their motto is DENY DENY DENY.


The Northern Territory : teachers who actually do their jobs in remote schools are intimidated and bullied by parasite administrators who charter planes to fly in for a day in the community.

Teachers who actually do their jobs in remote schools are intimidated and bullied simply because some administrator does not like them.

How many of these briefcase carrying parasites arrive in a remote community by charter plane just to spend the day, perhaps see a performance and just be back at the hotel in town for drinks?

These are the exact people who should be removed so that more actual teachers can be employed.

  • The Cleaner, Reader's Comment 20 of 24, Secret NT teacher 'blacklist' revealed, Alyssa Betts, NT News, 16 July 2010 :

Shepherdson College at Elcho Island : George and Robyn Hewitson question the value of bilingual education and are booted off the island.

In 2007, the Hewitsons were asked to take on the NT's biggest remote area school, the bilingual, government-run Shepherdson College at Elcho Island's Galiwinku community in Arnhem Land.


In February 2009 the Hewitsons were on the scrapheap - after being booted off Elcho Island.


The Hewitsons say they paid the price for challenging local Aborigines, the NT Department of Education and Training, and the bilingual system, which treats English as a second language.

"I think they think English is evil," George Hewitson says. "The notion is promoted that if you learn English, you lose your culture."


The Hewitsons also uncovered what they believe to be fraud, with 700 students enrolled and supposedly attending Shepherdson but, at best, just 220 turning up each year.

There were 36 teachers at Shepherdson - about the right number for a 700-student school - but with only 200 children, the Hewitsons raised concerns that it was overstaffed.

The Hewitsons believe attendance figures were distorted to maintain high numbers of teachers and to attract better funding.


The Hewitsons believe they uncovered more than the NT Government could handle -

70 per cent of students from years 7 to 12 could not read beyond early year levels;

50 per cent of years 7 to 12 students could not recognise letters from the alphabet;

and of 45 students from years 7 to 10 who sat an equivalent year 7 writing test, only four could write more than one sentence.


The Hewitsons claim children with no literacy were being scored bare minimum 10 out of 20 passes for tests that should have been failed.

"The attitude was that it was better to lie and for people to think you were doing well than to tell the truth," George Hewitson says.

"I proposed that there should be an indigenous literacy test, to prove to me that bilingual was working," George Hewitson says.

"Our bilingual teachers had a fit about this. They would argue that you learn your own language and at about grade 5 you swap over, and then English becomes really easy. It's crap."


Although he is not involved in running the school, Elcho elder Djiniyini Gondarra strongly disagrees with this thinking.

"They wanted us to stop speaking our mother tongue and act like a white man. You cannot expect everyone will be like that. They stopped bilingual education, they would not allow it. He was a hard man to talk to and convince. His understanding is that you can shape a Yolngu person and the only way is to teach English.

"I don't tell myself to stop speaking my own mother or father tongue. When I was growing up, I was hungry for education and I wanted to learn. I knew English could open up a world for me. But for me to understand English, I had to go back to my own language, to really understand the intellectual language."

And this, at its heart, is the bilingual argument.


According to George Hewitson, the Elcho boys told him they were desperate to shake off their illiteracy.

He says they feared off-island excursions because they couldn't read street signs.

It confounded the Hewitsons that some Aboriginal parents, taught by missionaries and literate in English, saw little value in their children learning the language.

George Hewitson says Shepherdson is in the grip of certain teachers, black and white, who have adopted a view that the proper approach, nowadays, is to support Aboriginal languages ahead of English.

This is partly borne of guilty knowledge that old-time missionaries frowned on Aboriginal languages and, in some places, extinguished them.

The Hewitsons think it's simple: children should speak their own language at home and learn English at school.


The Elcho Aborigines are fighting what they see as language imperialism.

Complaints about the Hewitsons led to an education department audit of the school in July last year.

Mr Hewitson went to see the department. "They started talking about trauma and offering us counselling. We were told we'd get paid leave, but that we could relinquish our positions."

By September, 13 members of the school council had written a petition to the department saying they didn't want the Hewitsons, now off the island, to come back.

George Hewitson went from being one of the equal highest paid principals in the NT - earning almost $160,000 - to being offered a job as a truancy officer in the town camps of Darwin.

Robyn Hewitson, a secondary teacher, was offered a primary school position in Darwin.

"We have been betrayed because the Government is frightened of Yolngu people and they don't really want to close the gap," George Hewitson says.

"I think they didn't want to take on some influential Aboriginal people in the community, which is gutless."


Voices of dissent, Paul Toohey, The Australian, 26 February 2009 : Read more :

Alekarenge school : teacher Robert Bartholomew blows the whistle.

Robert Bartholomew , an American sociology professor, has lived in Australia for 13 years.

He has spent several years working as a teacher in remote schools.

He was working as a teacher in Ali Curong (also called Alekarenge), 170km south of Tennant Creek and on the edge of the Tanami desert in the Northern Territory.

He "blew the whistle" on the Northern Territory's crumbling education system.

He said that walking into the Alekarenge School was like entering the third world.

Conditions at the Alekarenge school are so bad that only one of the six teachers who started work at the school in January 2008 have made it through to Term 2.

A spokesman for the Northern Territory Education Department said four teachers, not five, had left the school: two had taken up promotional positions, one was on maternity leave and one was following her partner to his new job in a different community.

In 2005 a report had identified an asbestos risk to children and staff both inside the school and in the playground.

The report alarmed the community.

Dr Bartholomew claims that the Education Department ignored the asbestos report.

The Education Department claim that this is untrue, and that all of the recommendations of the report had been implemented.

Dr Bartholomew said that he raised his concern about education and safety standards within the school for weeks.

"I was told my standards were too high," he said.

Then the department told him he was going be transferred to a different school.

But, despite having successful interviews at other schools, he has not been able to get another job as a teacher.

Dr Bartholomew believes that he has been "blackballed" by the department.

He is now technically an illegal immigrant.

Former colleagues of Dr Bartholomew, including school principals, spoke of him as a model teacher.

The Australian Education Union's Northern Territory branch secretary, Adam Lampe, said that Dr Bartholomew had been treated with contempt.

This week, Northern Territory Education Minister Marion Scrymgour admitted that remote schools were in crisis.



Whistleblower loses job, Natasha Robinson, The Australian, 19 April 2008 (approx).

Community rallies for teacher, Natasha Robinson, P. 10, The Nation, The Weekend Australian, 19 April 2008 (approx).

Umbakumba School : 21 May 2008 : A teacher threatened by man wielding an axe, spears, a bow and 12 arrows.

At about 8am on Wednesday 21 May 2008, a teacher working at the Umbakumba School on Groote Island was threatened by a man wielding an axe, spears, a bow and 12 arrows.

Groote Island is a remote Aboriginal community in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Northern Territory),

The man with the axe, etc. was allegedly looking for a relative at the school.

Police said the man threatened the teacher with the axe when he was asked to leave the school.

The man then damaged a school building with an axe.

Community members seized the weapons and disarmed the man.

He ran off into the bush before police arrived.

He remains at large despite police efforts to locate him.


Earlier this month, two teachers at Umbakumba School were threatened by a young man wielding a lump of concrete and a wooden log.

The 18-year-old had an altercation with his wife inside the school grounds before he allegedly became agitated and approached a classroom full of students.


Teacher threatened with axe, spears, AAP, The Courier-Mail, Wednesday 21 May 2008

Umbakumba School : 22 September 2005 . The school closes again after a man attacks school vehicles with a blunt instrument. Two teachers ask for counselling in Darwin.

Umbakumba school on Groote Eylandt closed on 22 September 2005, for the second time in a month, after a man attacked school vehicles with a blunt instrument.

It is believed he was same offender who had just been released on bail for the first attack.

The general manager for Arnhem Land schools, Peter Clark, spoke with the five teachers stationed at the school on Groote Eylandt this afternoon.

He says two asked for counselling in Darwin and the other three have been transferred to the nearby Alyangula area school.

"The school will remain closed while negotiations are held with the Umbakumba community council and very firm agreements are reached with regard to the process to be put in place with regard to teacher safety," he said.


Meanwhile, the Australian Education Union (AEU) says it is difficult to trust assurances from the Umbakumba community council that teachers will be safe from attack.

The AEU's Territory branch secretary Allan Perrin says the community council signed a memorandum of understanding to protect teachers last year.

He says that has now been broken several times.

"If they make a decision that they are going to notify the school if there's any imminent risk or any imminent danger - that did not happen yesterday," he said.

"And that's of great concern because that's one of the reasons that teachers went back, because the community were going to take part in ensuring the wellbeing of staff at the school."


Safety issues keep Umbakumba school closed, 23 September 2005 :

Umbakumba School, Groote Eylandt : 2 September 2005

On 2 September 2005 Umbakumba School on Groote Eylandt was closed after a teacher was allegedly threatened by an 18-year old student wielding a machete.

Alan Perrin, the secretary of the Australian Eduction Union's Northern Territory branch, explained that the incident occurred when a student got a little bit angry and decided that he would take out his frustrations by hitting a teacher.
The student then went home, got hold of a machete, and came back to the school and made an attack on the teachers, ended up throwing the machete at the teachers whilst they were trying to drive away,
Three teachers and other staff were too scared to return to the school.  
They will be seeking counseling and support, and that counseling and support will probably mean Umbakumba school will be closed for one week or more.

The AEU advise the teachers to ensure that their safety and wellbeing is paramount.
Teachers need to make sure that, before they return to the work place, they are happy with the safety of the school and the surroundings so they can make sure they can work there comfortably without any fear of further assaults or any other fears at all about being at that community.
This was the fourth violent incident in Territory schools in less than two weeks.
Chief Minister Clare Martin said that she is confident that schools in the Northern Territory are as safe as they can be.

Alan Perrin said the reality is some of these incidents involve students who are known offenders and the reality is maybe they shouldn’t be allowed back into the school system if they are known offenders.
Alan Perrin said that the AEU has been reluctant in the past to raise this issue of violence in schools because of possible impact it might have on recruiting teachers.
"Well clearly our concern is that we can’t afford to allow these sort of violent incidents to occur without trying at least making sure the department are aware of them and is actually taking action to address the issues the issues that have happened in the last few days have been reported to us by our members, we have an obligation to notify DEEP which we certainly did and when we believe that these are becoming to much we need to make them very public so that people can be aware that a teachers lot is not very easy in some instances and there needs to be some work done on addressing either violent students or communities that will not address it themselves and we can’t afford to have any employee, any of our members under any threat of assaults or any threat of personal harm and that’s just got to stop. It’s not acceptable in any workplace it’s not to be acceptable in schools either.

Stateline Transcript : Violence against teachers  Reporter: Melinda James, Broadcast: 2 September 2005 :