Bad Apple Bullies

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

New health checks to be offered to Victorian school principals.

An aggrieved father marched into school principal Cheryle Osborne's office shouting, "I'm going to kill you."

"It really shakes you up," Cheryle said.

"I had to call the police and get a trespass order. He would wait outside the school for me. I was really stressed."

At first Cheryle struggled to sleep.

Then the anxiety hit, and she found herself constantly wondering when the angry father would return to the school.

Unfortunately, such incidents are common. 

"I have been physically assaulted and verbally threatened by a parent. It made me realise how vulnerable I was," said Victorian Principals Association president Anne-Maree Kliman.  

Soon every Victorian state school head will be given health checks and be monitored by doctors.

The principals' mental health, blood pressure, heart rate, waist measurements and lifestyle will be assessed.

They will be offered optional pathology tests.

Every principal will be given a confidential report that foreshadows possible future health issues. 

Identities will be removed from the information and it will be collated into reports to be sent to the Education department. 

The health checks will not be compulsory.


Philip Riley, an associate professor at the Australian Catholic University, who conducts the annual principal health and wellbeing survey, said  the health checks were "a defensive legal strategy" to prevent principals from suing.

First Principals for healthy living, Henrietta Cook, P. 2, The Age, 4 August 2017 

What do other principals say about the department's duty of care?

"I think the department is negligent in its duty of care towards its principals," said Doug Conway, principal of Kings Park Primary School.

"There's an example of a principal who had death threats and had a very difficult time and was told by the regional advisor to toughen up.

"We're not here to hold your hand, you're the leader, you sort it out.

"It seems to be an unbalanced relationship."

Department 'negligent' in duty of care to principals, Brett Henebery, The Educator, 13 Jan 2015

What is lacking is compassion at the top level of the education department.

Schools and their staff are overburdened with increased class sizes and workloads.

A little care and sympathy to principals who are struggling can go a long way.

What is lacking as much as funding is compassion from the top-tier.

Principals are not just disposable.

They are trying to contribute as best they can.

Take better care of them.

Joe Citizen, Reader's Comment, Department 'negligent' in duty of care to principals, Brett Henebery, The Educator, 13 Jan 2015


Parents expect schools to do the parenting - to be the "bad guy" while they pander to their children.

This is the inevitable consequence of "modern" education.

The apparent importance of NAPLAN scores, etc. is destroying the notion of educating the whole person.

And a growing number of parents from all soci-economic groups expect schools to do the parenting i.e. to be the "bad guy" while the parents pander to their children.

Inevitably, there is a disconnect that can become quite serious.

Hence we get threatened school staff.

If senior administrators have an education background, it was most probably in an easier time.

It is just far too easy for these senior administrators to demand that school leaders take on a societal problem by themselves.

Maydoh, Reader's Comment, Department 'negligent' in duty of care to principals, Brett Henebery, The Educator, 13 Jan 2015

Principal : nobody in the department responded to my emergency alert.

I have been physically and verbally assaulted on several occasions.

My school was threatened on several occasions.

The appropriate emergency management actions were put in place at the school.

Alerts went out but NOT ONE person from the centre or region contacted me.

A message was sent to the Wellbeing team.

They did not get back to offer any support.

It is not good enough.

Frustrated Principal, Reader's Comment, Department 'negligent' in duty of care to principals, Brett Henebery, The Educator, 13 Jan 2015


The information on this webpage is already in the public domain.

It may be of help to teachers and principals dealing with similar situations.

But if you have concerns, please feel welcome to contact -