Tasmania's Education Department protected at least two child molesting teachers and possibly at least 10, shunting them between schools and jobs when allegations arose, sometimes over decades.
That is according to lawyer Sebastian Buscemi, of Angela Sdrinis Legal.
In other news:
Mr Buscemi is preparing civil claims for the Supreme Court on behalf of 10 plaintiffs relating to several teachers.
The court proceedings are expected to examine the department's responses to allegations and/or suspicions teachers were molesting children.
Mr Buscemi said he had clear evidence of the department protecting two teachers.
One teacher was finally jailed several years ago for sexually abusing children in the North-West in the 1970s and 1980s.
The other was currently jailed Hobart paedophile Darrel George Harington, who molested children over decades and was kept on by the department despite it knowing of repeated allegations against him.
" ... I am aware of about 10 teachers now who fit within the same pattern and I would bet my house were receiving the same treatment," Hobart-based Mr Buscemi said.
He said he had evidence some senior people in the department - and possibly even some government ministers - were aware of some of the abuse allegations at the time.
"It's now clear that they were doing what the Catholic Church had been doing with (paedophile) priests in almost every respect," he said.
"The only difference was that the Department of Education kept immaculate records of what they were doing."
CALL FOR INQUIRY
Former Labor state minister Allison Ritchie believes the Education Department protected at least five child molesting teachers in past decades.
She expects there would have been more.
Ms Ritchie - now president of the People Protecting Children advocacy and law reform lobbying group - has renewed her call in light of the Harington court outcome, the planned civil claims and concerns the ages of the remaining perpetrators mean they might die before the department is properly investigated
She said she knew of five cases where teachers were moved from job to job and/or school to school after suspicions, or worse, arose about their behaviour.
- Harington; and
- the other teacher referred to earlier who molested children in the North-West and was jailed in 2015 after pleading guilty to molesting 14 children.
Ms Ritchie said she also knew of a teacher who raped two young brothers and who was encountered by their mother years later while he was working in another role with the department.
"We tried really hard to get this on the agenda and the government didn't seem to want to have a bar of it," Ms Ritchie said.
"Their argument was 'There's a royal commission (into institutional responses to child sexual abuse), let's wait and see what happens out of that.' "
The commission did not fully probe the department's responses to actual and alleged child sex abuse by teachers.
Ms Ritchie said a Tasmanian parliamentary inquiry might be the best approach now and could enable victims to come forward on a confidential basis and reveal the abuse they had suffered in the state's school system.
She praised the government for "repeatedly" trying to legislate mandatory minimum jail terms for serious child sex offenders.
" ... I am disappointed the Legislative Council has continued to frustrate that," she said.
'SHAPED MY LIFE'
One victim of the first paedophile teacher mentioned earlier said he knew of more than 30 people who came forward saying the teacher molested them when they were children.
"All I've asked for ever, I want the Education Department to be investigated," the North-West man said.
"I wanted to know whether they knew he was a paedophile ..."
He claimed a police officer told him detectives had known about the teacher's activities for years and about the Education Department moving him from school to school.
He said the need for investigation was increasing with the passing of time.
When it was put to him that many of the abusers would be elderly or dead by now, he said: "It's getting more urgent ... how much longer have I got?"
"This has taken a lot out of me.
"It's shaped my entire life.
"I can't have another girlfriend.
"If you fall in love with someone, you've got to tell them all about yourself.
"You don't want to unload all this on someone else."
He said he felt like the case would never close for him.
On the system, he said: "I feel like I've been jumping through hoops of fire."
"It's severely broken."
The department said it would not comment on individual cases for privacy reasons.
" ... many of these matters are being addressed through the National Redress Scheme or other legal proceedings," it said.
The department said it quickly processed requests for information from lawyers acting for victims and survivors.
"The department cooperates fully with police to assist with their inquiries in respect of historical sexual assault matters and has processes in place for the management and investigation of any new allegations that are raised," it said.
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