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Elite private school warns parents they could be sued if they allow their children to get drunk at home before attending the school formal

  • Methodist Ladies’ College issued warning
  • Head of Melbourne school said parents could be sued 
  • Warns against binge-drinking culture in schools 

One of Melbourne‘s top private girls’ schools has warned parents they could be sued if their children get drunk before or after their school formal.

Julia Shea, the principal of Methodist Ladies’ College in Melbourne, wrote to parents last week to discourage them from ‘organising events where the provision of alcohol to minors is intended or likely to occur’.

It comes as parents at the school have asked other parents to sign waivers removing liability if a drunk teen is harmed in their home.

But in her letter to parents, seen by the Herald Sun, Ms Shea said that lawyers warn that forms ‘couched as waivers’ would have ‘very little weight in any negligence case’ and ‘do nothing to abrogate a host’s duty of care’.

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While most schools keep the event itself alcohol free, many private schools formals have become an all-day drinking sessions with underage students sipping alcohol before and after. 

One of Melbourne's top private girls' schools has warned parents they could be sued if their children get drunk before or after their school formal

One of Melbourne’s top private girls’ schools has warned parents they could be sued if their children get drunk before or after their school formal

Ms Shea’s letter, co-signed by the school’s Parent’s Association, also explains that the formal must end ‘promptly’ at 10.30pm and attendees must be picked up in pre-booked taxis or by their parents.

‘Note that Uber does not permit those under 18s to book or ride in an Uber unless accompanied by an adult,’ the letter says.

Students will also have to attend the school to pick up their tickets on the morning ahead of the event in order to slow down any day drinking.   

The principal’s strict rules are vastly different to many other elite private schools who have allowed drinking.

Last year, Thomas Carr College in Tarneit, Victoria allowed their students over 18 to drink wine and beer at their graduation dinner while in 2020, Melbourne Girls’ College stopped Year 12 formals altogether.

Julia Shea, the principal of Methodist Ladies' College in Melbourne, wrote to parents last week to discourage them from 'organising events where the provision of alcohol to minors is intended or likely to occur'

Julia Shea, the principal of Methodist Ladies’ College in Melbourne, wrote to parents last week to discourage them from ‘organising events where the provision of alcohol to minors is intended or likely to occur’

The reputations of some of Australia’s most exclusive private schools have taken a battering in recent years after a series of scandals involving privileged male students.

In 2020, a scavenger hunt from Shore School in Sydney was leaked that saw a points award for a number of acts including ‘pissing on a homeless man’, ‘hooking up with an Asian’ and the ‘Boar Hunter’ – which is having sex with a woman over 80kg.

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Meanwhile pupils at $19,000-a-year St Kevin’s College in Melbourne and students at Brisbane’s Villanova College were recorded singing lewd songs with offensive lyrics towards women.

St Kevin’s College students dressed in their school’s striped blazers were filmed chanting the song in 2019, saying: ‘I wish that all the ladies, were holes in the road… And if I was a dump truck, I’d fill them with my load.’

The Villanova Catholic school boys were recorded signing a song that mentioned ‘c*m and go’, ‘shoot and scoot’ and ‘ejaculate and evacuate’, referring to having sex with a woman.

In 2021, former Kambala student Chanel Contos, 22, started a petition for sexual consent education in elite schools which led to thousands of girls from around Australia recounting abuse and sex assault at the hands of their male peers.

Victoria passed laws making it an offence for adults to supply alcohol to minors without getting permission from a parent or guardian in 2011.

Those who break the law can face a fine of up to $7,000.

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