JazmineA Catholic school student who allegedly suffered serious mental health problems after years of bullying by other students should not receive compensation from the school because she repeatedly failed to inform the school about what was happening, a court has heard.
In 2011, Jazmine Oyston successfully sued St Patrick’s College at Campbelltown for negligence over the psychiatric injuries she sustained as a result of being taunted and abused by other students from the so-called “popular group”.
The bullying reportedly took place over three years and included being called ‘slut’, ‘bitch’, ‘dog’ and ‘pimple face’ by the students and being physically attacked in the corridors. Ms Oyston later made a number of self harm and suicide attempts.
But St Patrick’s College is now appealing against the $150,000 damages judgment made against it and seeking to have Ms Oyston pay its legal costs from the trial.
In his opening address to the NSW Court of Appeal on Monday, the school’s barrister, Robert Sheldon, SC, said that Ms Oyston, who attended the school between 2002 and 2005, had been given counselling from year 7, but neither she nor her parents even mentioned bullying until years later.
“The plaintiff doesn’t say she’s being bullied, and in fact says that there’s nothing wrong,” Mr Sheldon said of Ms Oyston’s early counselling sessions.
“It is [also] extremely unlikely that [if] the plaintiff’s mother, Mrs Oyston, knew her daughter was being ‘relentlessly bullied’ from the first day of school, that she wouldn’t say anything to the counsellor.”
In subsequent counselling sessions, Ms Oyston reported that she was “10 out of 10 on the happy meter”.
Ms Oyston, now aged 22, claims that she was so badly bullied in years eight and nine, she suffered a number of serious panic attacks, one of which required her to be hospitalised.
But Mr Sheldon produced records from the young woman’s psychiatric consultations at Campbelltown Hospital, in which she complained that she was feeling “isolated” in the classroom because her friends were in other classes, but made no specific mention of bullying.
Ms Oyston has launched a cross appeal against the school, claiming that the $150,000 she was awarded was inadequate given her ongoing mental health issues, which have affected her ability to work and to have meaningful social relationships.
Ms Oyston told a Supreme Court hearing in 2011 that girls would “walk past me and they’d get their elbows and push into me”.
At a swimming carnival, she said she was teased for wearing a one-piece swimsuit instead of a bikini and at an athletics carnival she said she was mocked for wearing the house colours.
The hearing continues.
* Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.
Correction: The original version of this story said the school was appealing against an award of $300,000 to Jazmine Oyston.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.