Injured People

Whyalla ‘Fight Club’ A Warning For All Schools

Tindall Gask Bentley partner Barney Gask has warned schools to protect themselves from legal risks, after a high school ‘fight club’ was revealed in Whyalla.

Not only could there have been safety issues for the students, but potentially legal ramifications for the school involved. 

“It is very lucky that no injuries seem to have risen from this because it is really clear that schools owe a duty of care to their students, to provide a safe environment for them, even if the students were wilful participant,” Mr Gask said.

“The crucial thing here is knowledge.

“If the school knew about it and did nothing to stop it, and the student sustains an injury, it becomes extremely difficult for them to be removed from any criticism or liability.

 “That goes across the board for any student injury and violent bullying incidents – could the school have done something to stop it?

“But if there had been no knowledge of it whatsoever, then it is hard to criticise the school.”

Mr Gask says all schools should learn from the Whyalla ‘fight club’ issue and where possible, protect their students from injury and themselves from legal action.

“Schools are in dangerous territory if there are activities going on with a foreseeable injury risk and must keep their eyes and ears open to anything that may be going on in the school yard,” Mr Gask said.

“From the moment they enter the school grounds to the moment they leave, they have an obligation to ensure that those kids are safe.”

“If something like a ‘Fight Club’ is being run within the knowledge of the school, that’s when a breach of duty of care is obvious.

“If a teacher has organised this, or had knowledge of this, the school could be liable.

“It is very lucky that it appears that there has been no injuries.

“If the school says ‘the students were in there after hours and we didn’t know about it, otherwise we would have stopped it’, then there is less chance of the school being held liable, but if it can be proven that a teacher or school staff member had knowledge or involvement, it is a different story.”

“If there are activities going on that put students at risk, they have an obligation to stop them and to do something to prevent such things from happening.

“Despite the fact that they may have been wearing gloves, if a student is punched, loses balance and hits their head on the ground, it’s a massive risk for the school.

“Boxing can be dangerous even with strict measures and safety precautions, let alone a ‘fight club’ situation.”