Simon Birt - Photo3

Investigation into former Gold Coast teacher’s employment could spark changes to legislation

February 23, 2016 1:00am

A LOOPHOLE that allows suspended Queensland teachers to find work at another school is to be closed.Education Minister Kate Jones yesterday vowed to change the law after it was revealed former teacher Simon Birt was employed at the Australian International Islamic College in February and March last year while suspended from Bellevue Park State school, after allegations he had dealt inappropriately with students.“As a mother and a minister, I think this case highlights a situation where you’ve got to balance natural justice with the community expectation of safety,” Ms Jones said.

“It’s the threshold of information about employment ­details that needs to be ­examined.

“This is the first time that I have had a case like this since I’ve been a minister.”

Mr Birt was suspended in August 2014 while the allegations were investigated by the education department. They were eventually deemed to be unfounded.

On May 7, 2015 while Mr Birt was still being investigated, police charged the former teacher with possessing seven sexually explicit photos of children and an 11-minute video of boys aged 9 to 12.

Mr Birt’s Queensland College of Teachers licence was suspended on May 11.

He pleaded guilty in Southport District Court on February 10 to possessing child exploitation material and was given probation and let off without a conviction.

Ms Jones said that while she was still seeking clarity over the specifics of Mr Birt’s story, it seemed there was a loophole in the legislation. She said she believed the problem arose because there was no official channel through which the Islamic College could verify Mr Birt’s character.

Ms Jones said had Mr Birt applied to teach at another public school, he would have been knocked back.

She said there needed to be a better flow of information between government departments and independent schools.

“It was an accusation and he was immediately suspended,” she said.

“There was no way he would have been employed in a state school while he was on suspension.”

Ms Jones said she was determined to address the loophole and would look at ways she could change the Queensland College of Teachers Act.

Islamic College head of campus, Imam Mohammed Azhari, said he had checked Mr Birt’s registration and was outraged that information regarding the investigation had not been available.

“(When I found out he had been suspended) I contacted the Queensland College of Teachers and asked them what was going on, because he had been teaching at our school,” he said.

“We’ve checked and done all the procedures that we could to avoid the situation and we feel violated and we feel hard done by.

“It should have been noted straight away.”


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  1. Scott Nicholls says:

    Why was he let off without a conviction?


  2. Helen Rutherford says:

    Thankyou for the updates. One thing concerns me however. It is the fact that magistrates/judges are allowed the discretion of publishing or not the details of their case. My ex was convicted of child sex offences but the decision was made not to publish details. At first I was concerned about repercussions should his name be made public, but the longer the case went on, the more I decided he should be named and shamed. He was sentenced to an Intensive Corrections Order, so he is free to roam the streets….. very frustrating. Regards Helen

  3. justice says:

    Its great to name and shame, but what if you haven’t got the whole story. Do you also name and shame the students who falsely accuse teachers on a daily basis. In this case the Teacher was accused by a student and found the allegations were unfounded as stated in the article. What it didn’t state was that the teacher had taught in Secondary and Primary, had taught human development, had researched in the area for classes, had possibly clicked on links which took the teacher to unwanted sites, which most people have done at some stage searching the internet. The article also does not state that the 7 images were not saved on the computer, but only showed in internet browsing history. It was classed at the very lowest end of child exploitation material by law, and was actually non sexual. The article also does not state that another person was on trial for a simular offence in the same court room with hundreds of images, but the media didn’t plaster it every where, or name and shame them. Is it because they were not a teacher or heavily involved in the community? People are so quickly willing to jump on the band wagon, without the full facts. The Media are willing to sensationalise a story without all the facts, and unfairly pick and choose stories to get a public reaction. Why did the seasoned children’s court Judge give such a lenient sentence? Maybe because she had heard the evidence before her, not just a one sided story, maybe because she had years of expertise in this area, and could see it for what it was. Why else would she make it possible for him to obtain a blue card in the future, and possibly put her own family at risk? What impact has this had on his family and their well being. How quickly we judge without all the facts!

  4. R says:

    Hi Justice, it is interesting the in site that you have into this particular case. How did you find out these additional facts? Also you made no comment about the video or the previous accusations that Simon Birt had labelled at him from a previous school. Often old sayings carry a lot of weight; there is no smoke without fire.
    The other point to this is; researching certain items would not lead to someone pleading guilty for such an offence only; there was an allegation and there was a police home visit. If as you say it was an unfounded allegation than the judge would not have made him plead guilty. I would risk everything to clear my name if I was faced with the same scenario – I would lose my house as your reputation and word are really what you are worth.
    I would still like to know how you found the other details? comment on the video? the previous allegations? where is he now if you know?
    Justice lastly are you Simon Birt?

  5. Annie smith says:

    My grandson has been damaged by this bastard and as much hard work and the amount of time police put in to getting these mongrels to court to be made accountable for the scars the kids and the families are left with only
    For the judges to let them off.Be a different story if it was the judges grandkids that we stalked and

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