The Australian College of Teacher Aides and Childcare operates out of Brisbane’s inner north.
The Australian College of Teacher Aides and Childcare operates out of Brisbane’s inner north.

Kids ‘at risk’ due to dodgy qualifications

HUNDREDS of teacher's aides and childcare workers could be jeopardising the safety of vulnerable kids by working with dodgy qualifications from a Brisbane college, a court has heard.

The Australian College of Teacher Aides and Childcare, based in Nundah, has told Brisbane District Court it is urgently reviewing and remarking almost 3000 exams and assessments taken by more than 2000 students between October 2016 and September 2018.

College owner Adam Cox, 38, from Kalinga in Brisbane's inner north, told the court the assessments had been marked as competent by his ex-partner and the college's former co-owner and CEO Myra Feely, 32, a teacher from the town of Leitrim in Ireland.

Mr Cox alleges Ms Feely granted qualifications to students to work with vulnerable infants or young children when they may not have the skills to do so.

He told the court his staff need a year to review and re-mark 2829 assessments, and alleges Ms Feely's failures undermine the integrity of a national qualification intended to raise the standard of care for children.

Mr Cox alleges Ms Feely also altered documents, falsified records and withheld documents to ensure the college passed an audit when it was failing to meet federal training standards.

College staff told the court that after Ms Feely quit in October they discovered that a list of student's results was not maintained, nor was a list of student assessment results.

"Many students thought they had successfully completed the course to the stage that they were to graduate however no records were held to support their completion," staffer Tracey Ford told the court.

Many students told Ms Ford they had never had phone contact with Ms Feely during their entire course, the court was told.

Details of the alleged misconduct were revealed when Mr Cox and the college sued Ms Feely for $670,737 in damages for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.

Mr Cox and the college have won freezing orders over Ms Feely's assets and she has not defended the claim.

Staff also alleged Ms Feely asked them to suppress data which should have been given to the government auditors from the Australian Skills Quality Authority in September.

Mr Cox told the court that the college will go bust if it loses its registration as a training organisation with the Federal Government.

The college had 1000 students when it was audited in September.

Mr Cox alleges he did not know of the alleged negligence when he bought Ms Feely's share of the business in October for $217,000.

"(Mr Cox) is quite understandably concerned that he will be left holding the baby whilst (Ms Feely) withdraws money from her bank accounts and from the jurisdiction," college barrister Marshall Cooke told the court.

Mr Cox told the court he was extremely concerned Ms Feely had returned to Ireland permanently to live with family, or planned to return to Ireland in the very near future, which she had told him was her intention.

"I believe she has no intention of returning to Australia, and intends on working as a teacher in Ireland," he told the court.

According to his claim, Mr Cox learned Ms Feely had failed to properly conduct the audit to ensure that the training and assessment and assessment strategies were compliant with the Australian Skills Quality Authority for all students that were eligible in early November 2018.

"Following an initial review, more than 50 students had significant non-compliant training issues," the claim said.

Mr Cox alleged this included a failure to carry out proper competency reviews of students work and assessments, and a failure to identify her students and the number of students enrolled in the course.

"There was no record of formal assessments of work provided and assignments that the students had completed and had submitted to the company," Mr Cox alleged.

On December 3, District Court judge David Andrews banned Ms Feely from removing assets to the value of $350,000 from Australia, including withdrawing cash from her bank.

Ms Feely must tell the court the value and location of her Australian assets before the case returns on December 20.

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