Major education department shake-up announced

Major education department shake-up announced
Under a raft of Victorian Education Department changes, top executives will be rotated within the department to avoid forming cosy bonds, and principals and councils will receive better training.
The Department's shake-up is a result of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission’s (IBAC) recent investigation into corruption among its officials.

Victoria’s Education Minister, James Merlino, told The Herald Sun that the behaviour exposed through the IBAC hearings was “an absolute disgrace”.

“Victorian families have every right to be outraged that their money was stolen by these corrupt officials,” Merlino said, adding he was confident Department of Education and Training secretary, Gill Callister, would improve the integrity of the department.

The move follows charges against Education Department officials who allegedly filtered at least $2.5m of public money through “banker schools”.

“Legislation requires a long series of steps to be able to reach dismissal. It could take more than six months,” Callister said, adding all schools linked to the alleged fraud were being investigated and audited.

In response to the inquiry, Callister said she had abolished banker schools and was planning a new funding model which included:
  • Setting up an “integrity division” that would report directly to her and would include whistle-blower support
  • Introducing new audit software to identify unusual invoicing and payment patterns in schools
  • Bringing in a new policy to rotate executives and avoid “unhealthy networks” developing that were resistant to change
  • Developing new rules and structures for spending and procurement
  • Improving training and support for and a new regional support model for principals and school councils
  • Clamping down on unnecessary travel that had no education benefit
IBAC Commissioner, Stephen O’Bryan, said he would report his findings to Parliament later this year.