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Excerpt: In NSW Industrial Relations Commission Cross-examination of Mrs Kerrison on 4 December 2001

Before JUSTICE SCHMIDT.

Re-examining the Applicant Mrs Val Kerrison by TAFE’s teams including some or all, or more:

Crown Solicitors’ Office Team 7
TAFE legal officers,
QC Richard Kensey,
Barrister Elaine Brus
Peter Cribb TAFE

<RE-EXAMINATION of Mrs Kerrison
4 December 2001

At Transcript 347-350


CREWDSON (for the Applicant Kerrison): Q. Mr Kenzie asked you just now about the incident of students being turned away from classes. He asked you on a previous day of cross-examination in more detail about those instances in early 1994 and he suggested that that may have been in relation to AB study or OZ study requirements. Could I just ask you at what time those particular instances occurred in 1994?
KERRISON: They occurred either late February or early March. The course commenced probably beginning of February so it would have been about four or five weeks into a course that was going - going for the whole year finishing in December.

Q. So about four or five weeks into a year along comes - so would that be a usual thing for students to be served with notices saying that they shouldn't - they were no longer part of the course because of attendance after four or five weeks?
A. No, I hadn't seen anything like that in TAFE and I'd worked in a number of areas. I'd worked in administrative service, in computers, in arts and media, in equal employment opportunity, various areas and I had never seen such a thing.

Q. Did you have students who were on AUS study or AB study?
A. Yes.

Q. Is there some procedure in TAFE that required you to monitor their attendance in relation to those grants?
A. No, not unless there was a specific question about a specific student and then we would have a look but no, we didn't monitor their attendances. As a matter of fact sometimes people would enrol in something where they already knew the subject but they wanted to get the qualification so they would enrol and then just turn up and do the exam to get the qualification.

CREWDSON: Q. In that period what was your position?
A. At that time I was acting head teacher of Administrative Services.

Q. And that incident of the sending out of letters, had there been anything that had happened related to that or connected with the attendance of students before that?
A. I'm sorry, I don't understand the question.

Q. At the beginning of the term you were head teacher?
A. Yes.

Q. Did you have as part of the responsibilities the responsibility of enrolling students?
A. Yes.

Q. You enrolled some students in the class of Rhonda Hayes?
A. I enrolled students in a course called Advance Certificate in Office Administration. Miss Hayes was one of the teachers who taught that course.

Q. What happened in relation to those enrolments?
A. I enrolled the students, showed them where the classroom was, told them that Miss Hayes was the teacher, and for them to go and join the class. They had their enrolment forms to give to Miss Hayes.

Q. Then what happened?
A. Later on I heard Miss Hayes say that three aboriginal students had come to the door of the class and that she hadn't allowed them in, that they had gone down and waited in the canteen.

Q. Those were the three students you had enrolled?
A. Yes, I had enrolled them and showed them where to walk to to join the class.

Q. How did you feel about that when you heard about it?
A. I was shocked. I was fearful that the students might have simply walked away, discouraged from taking their course or else walked away and done something else rather than persevere to get into the class. But they did persevere and they came to the next class and the subsequent teacher, of course, allowed them to come straight in and join the class.

Q. So the incident with the letters being sent out was some weeks after that?
A. Yes, probably two or three weeks after that.

Q. How did you come to know that letters were being sent out?
A. I was in the office and the aboriginal support person, Liz Hoskins, came to me and she had a list of names in her hand. She said words - she said something like, "Rhonda said something for you to send out letters to these students to say they are no longer in the course because they have missed some classes." words to that effect. I said words to the effect that, "No, we don't do that." or, "We can't do that. It's not legal." I directed Miss Hoskins - I said something like, "Go up and tell Elizabeth." Then I went up a little bit later to see that everything had been explained and worked out okay, or see that everything was okay and Miss McGregor said to me, "I'll have the office send the letters out." I said, "No, we can't do that. It's not legal. If students are going to be - if something like that is going to happen it has to be written into the course and students must know and have signed that they know because attendance is not a criteria on these courses."

Q. What then happened?
A. Elizabeth said - I must have said we can't do that and she said, "Oh yes we can. We do it all the time down below." I remember specifically, "Oh yes we can. We do it all the time down below." "Down below" is the Djigay Centre, which is the Aboriginal Centre of Excellence in aboriginal education.

Q. How did you feel about Miss McGregor's actions?
A. Well, it ran through my mind how many other students have been turned away and missed out on their education. I was shocked and I argued - I said, "No, we can't do that. It isn't legal."

Q. What did you do then in relation to that issue?
A. I couldn't spend any more time there. I was due to go in class. I said what I believed to be the situation at least a couple of times. I went back to the office and got the text books, etc., for the next class.