Former Catalyst Schools staff awarded entitlements after Consumer Protection action


Catalyst Schools Boys Campus, Wangara chief executive Michael Parker. File picture: Community News
Catalyst Schools Boys Campus, Wangara chief executive Michael Parker. File picture: Community News

FORMER staff members of a specialist school for ‘at risk’ youth have been awarded entitlements totalling more than $250,000 following action by Consumer Protection.

The Catalyst Schools, operated by OK Youth Services, closed in December 2013 with no cash or assets two months after the Department of Education Services cancelled its registration and Federal funding ceased.

The school started in 2009 and membership was open to those who were involved in the local Christian community.

Attendees included young people with behavioural problems referred by other schools or the justice system, leasing premises in Joondalup and Wangara to operate separate boys’ and girls’ campuses.

In early 2014, OK Youth Services chief executive Michael Parker told the Weekender it had 130 students enrolled who had to find alternative schools.

According to Consumer Protection, formal winding up of the association was not possible at the time because no creditor was willing to pay for the appointment of a liquidator.

It said that prevented staff, mostly teachers, from claiming for lost wages, accrued leave and other unpaid employment benefits from the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG), a scheme operated by the Federal Government.

Consumer Protection took Supreme Court action to have a liquidator appointed and 23 claims have been approved to date with a total payout of $257,894.

Commissioner David Hillyard said it is a rare action to take but necessary under the circumstances.

“The number of people affected and the amount of entitlements owed meant that we needed to intervene in this particular case to unlock the benefits under FEG, so the workers can get paid what they are rightfully owed,” he said.

“Without this action the workers would have hit a legal wall and been left out of pocket, so we are pleased to have been able to help unlock the funds for those who were affected financially by the closure of this school.”

UPDATE, February 1: The Weekender contacted Mr Parker, who said the schools closure was disappointing with a lack of positive outcomes for a lot of the students.

Visit www.jobs.gov.au for information about the Fair Entitlements Guarantee.

For more information, visit www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au, email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 74.