Sensitive details left online
An inquiry has been ordered after children’s personal details were published on the Victorian Education Department's website.
Confidential information on the families of children who have self-harmed or been victims of bullying, as well as details about students’ medical conditions, were uploaded to the site without personal identifiers removed.
Four individuals’ names, email addresses, street addresses and phone numbers were published, as well as partial details of around 120 families, all of which homeschooled their kids.
The information stayed online for about 24 hours.
“A couple of the families involved actually have domestic violence issues in their past, which means that having their details online was extremely stressful and made them feel unsafe,” Susan Wight, coordinator of the Home Education Network (which represents homeschool families), told the ABC.
“It's invaded their children's privacy.
“In some cases this is about severe bullying, self-harming, anxiety, all quite personal things and there it was online with the parent's name.
“They were using the details of their very personal, in some cases harrowing stories, to illustrate why the new regulations won't work.”
Gill Callister, secretary of the Department of Education and Training, apologised for the “unintentional breach of privacy”.
“We are taking it very seriously. We have commissioned an independent investigation to identify what went wrong and to identify steps to prevent it from happening again,” she said.
“In going through the process, it would appear that some people who did not want their information published, some of that has been published.
“We will make sure that if any further information is published that we have cleared that with every single person.”
Ms Wight said it was another blow for families already put off by state education.
“Many of these families have left the system that has failed them and here it has failed them again,” she said.
“There were other families who didn't make a submission because they didn't trust the department and their worst fears have been confirmed.”