Melbourne’s Balwyn High School male students accused of sexual misconduct including rape jokes


Boys at Melbourne high school are accused of making rape jokes, masturbating in class and ranking girls in class from most to least attractive

  • Melbourne school hit with accusations of sexual misconduct by male students  
  • Claims behaviour included masturbating in class, rape jokes and ranking looks 
  • Students who presented claims to principal say the school failed to act  
  • Education department says school acted ‘appropriately and professionally’ 

A Melbourne high school continues to attract unwelcome headlines with allegations  male students routinely sexually harassed female students, ranked them for their looks and even masturbated in front of them during class. 

The claims were made as part of a survey of female students that was delivered to Balwyn High School principal Deborah Harman in March 2021.

The anonymous survey, completed by 49 students, claimed Balwyn High boys had masturbated in front of girls while in class and threatened to rape female students as a ‘joke’, reported the Herald Sun.   

Balwyn High School in Melbourne's east faces allegations that boys at the school engaged in serious sexual misconduct including masturbating in front of girls while in class

Balwyn High School in Melbourne’s east faces allegations that boys at the school engaged in serious sexual misconduct including masturbating in front of girls while in class

Male students also allegedly inappropriately touched and stalked girls on school property as well as regularly addressing them in derogatory terms such as  ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and ‘bitch’.

It’s also claimed year nine and 10 girls were ranked from best to worst looking. 

A Victorian Department of Education spokesperson said Ms Harman had ‘taken these claims seriously and addressed them appropriately and professionally’.  

‘Balwyn High School is an outstanding school with strong academic output that is led by one of Victoria’s best principals,’  the spokesperson said.  

There were also claims that Balwyn girls were serially harassed by boys who made jokes about rape, inappropriately touched and stalked them, and made a list ranking attractiveness

There were also claims that Balwyn girls were serially harassed by boys who made jokes about rape, inappropriately touched and stalked them, and made a list ranking attractiveness

Following the petition delivered to Ms Harman the school had delivered senior students sessions that taught consent and respectful relations – named Project You.

The sessions were constructed with input from students who had aired concerns, the department said, and the school community had reacted positively.  

Students told the Herald Sun they went to Ms Harman after some teachers dismissed the survey as an ‘attack on boys at the school’ and told them that ‘men suffer too’.

One said she ‘believed the school had a duty of care but had pushed aside these issues’.

‘Girls were literally assaulted at school and given detentions for their uniform being too short,’ she said.

Victoria's education department has backed Balwyn High School Principal Deborah Harman's handling of the complaints saying they had been dealt with 'appropriately and professionally'

Victoria’s education department has backed Balwyn High School Principal Deborah Harman’s handling of the complaints saying they had been dealt with ‘appropriately and professionally’

‘The boys used to sit around and say that girls were ‘just holes to fill’ and other things like that and make jokes about consent and teachers would hear and not say anything.’

The survey also claimed girls at the school were criticised for wearing short skirts by staff who told them ‘girls should know what they are doing’ by wearing ‘such clothes’.

One male teacher had allegedly made the observation he could see up the skirts of girls sitting on the floor in class, which was labelled ‘as creepy as f***’.

It was reported that a year 11 girl was given a detention at Balwyn High for having a short skirt that was ‘distracting’ male teachers and staff.

The school subsequently denied the student was told that.

The survey organisers were inspired by London university student Chanel Contos who in  February 2021 began an Instagram poll for young Australian woman to anonymously report incidences of sexual assault by students from all-boys schools.

The response was so overwhelming it propelled Ms Contos, a former student at the exclusive Kambala all girls school in Sydney’s Rose Bay, to become a leading advocate for teaching consent lessons. 

Consent education activist Chanel Contos inspired Balwyn High students to begin surveying their schoolmates on their experiences of sexual harassment and misconduct

Consent education activist Chanel Contos inspired Balwyn High students to begin surveying their schoolmates on their experiences of sexual harassment and misconduct 

Balwyn High School, in Melbourne’s east, has also attracted unwelcome mention for students organising a boycott of the 2021 year 12 formal, because classmates were banned for not behaving in ‘a respectful, inclusive manner towards their peers, teachers and the community’.

The school also received media coverage for charging students $130 for a walking ‘homelessness tour’ of inner Melbourne but which also included a stop at the Big Issue production workshop and a visit to Melbourne Museum, which has free entry to those under 16.

Last year Ms Harman took home the title of Outstanding Secondary School Principal at the Victorian Education Excellence Awards.   

In her principal’s message on the school website she writes: ‘We are committed to excellence and community, by actively challenging and supporting every student, every staff member, to be their best.’ 

‘We hold all community members to the highest standards and we proudly acknowledge and celebrate success – in all its forms.’ 

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