Counsellor unaware of Wildman

Former Kadina High School counsellor Melissa Ireland said ‘no one mentioned any-thing about anything’ to do with Alex Wildman.
Former Kadina High School counsellor Melissa Ireland said ‘no one mentioned any-thing about anything’ to do with Alex Wildman.

KADINA High's school counsellor never met Alex Wildman and the head of student welfare only spoke to him once, despite repeated bullying over many months and violent assaults, an inquest has heard.

In the second week of an inquest into the 14-year-old's July 2008 suicide, former Kadina school counsellor Melissa Ireland said no one ever raised any issues about Alex with her.

“I did not know Alex and I'd never met him,” she told the inquest in Ballina.

“No one mentioned anything about anything.”

Ms Ireland said she had received a small counselling file about the teenager from schools he had attended in Sydney, but it did not contain any 'red flags'.

She said she would have expected the school official who enrolled Alex - in this case then deputy principal Bradd Farrell - to inform her of any issues that needed attention.

The school's head teacher welfare, Pamela Mathieson, was also unaware of Alex's extensive history of being bullied and attacked at his Sydney schools.

And there was nothing in the child's behaviour to suggest something was wrong, she said.

“He looked so happy,” she told the inquest.

“If we were aware of this, we would have put it through our procedures.

“We need to know these sorts of things.

“Each student at our school is very, very precious.”

Ms Mathieson, who has 27 years' teaching experience, also said welfare services at Kadina were under-resourced.

“I'm finding more and more that we're the first port of call for parents. We are often called by parents and asked advice on various aspects of their life,” she said.

“More and more I think we are finding that there are parents who are relying on schools to provide some of their community needs.”

And there were two to three harassment allegations within the school each week, she said.

The inquest also heard the Kadina school counsellor position only exists five out of 10 days in each fortnight.

Relieving deputy principal Phillip Brodie, who has worked at the school for the better part of two decades, said there had been a recent increase in fights recorded on mobile phones.

He said filming the fights was currently 'trendy' among students, but the practice helped glamorise them and encouraged further fights.

Mr Brodie said the only welfare-related contact he had with Alex before he took his own life was when a student's grandparents had died.

The school's welfare policy had been rewritten since Alex's death after an internal review which found that its anti-harassment policy should be more in line with the education department's anti-bullying policy, he said.

The inquest into the reasons for Alex's suicide, before Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson, continues today.

Read more...

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