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New Independent Office in VIC to resolve school disputes

Victorian families will have access to an Independent Office responsible for resolving the most complex and difficult school disputes.

The Independent Office is designed to resolve disputes concerning school-based decisions or actions with the aim to achieve a shared agreement.

Matters that may come to the Office include issues of access and inclusion, wellbeing and engagement, management of medical conditions, responses to bullying, appropriate setting for students at risk or disengaged students.

Francis Handy will chair the new Office having worked in the public and private sectors in Australia, the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. He has more than 20 years’ experience in dispute resolution, including work in schools.

Two experienced deputy chairs have also been appointed: Jo-Anne Mazzeo, a dispute resolution lawyer with a background in mental health and disability law, and Treasure Jennings, an expert in dispute resolution with a wealth of experience as the Public Transport Ombudsman.

They will be supported by 13 other Independent Office members with expertise in primary and secondary education as well as a range of other areas likely to come before the office including family disputes, vulnerable children, disability, mental health, LGBTI issues and Koorie engagement.

The members will come together on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of a dispute with the aim of finding an outcome agreeable to all sides. For more on the new service visit the website.


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