I think it is fair to say that most teachers are stunned by what we've read/heard so far. ( and they haven't even got to the Ultranet debacle or drilled down into activities at a regional level.) It is disturbing to note that several school principals have been implicated in the nefarious activities of Napoli/Rosewarne and Allman. I wonder what is to come?
At the very heart of the corruption scandal now ripping apart Victoria's Education Department was a small group of senior men who regularly met for lunch.
Standing against the lunch club, or trying to, were a few brave women who tried to draw attention to the scandal; to blow the whistle on how hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars were flowing out of the state's most disadvantaged schools, and into the pockets of the mates and their families.
But when they raised their voices in protest, the women were pushed into meaningless jobs, vilified or even made redundant. They face a significant problem: the person in the hierarchy they were supposed to report their concerns to was Jeff Rosewarne – the Education Department's deputy secretary, and the convener of the lunch club.
"If you were a woman, over 45 and asked questions, you were out," said one former senior woman official, who has asked not to be identified on the basis she may be called as a witness by the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission.
"It was a boys' club, a ridiculous culture. If an audit found something that was not right, nothing seemed to happen."
If measured by its control of money and jobs, this little cabal was among the most powerful in Melbourne. But until this week, few Victorians would have heard of the participants. Nor would they have known that the men had the power to make or break the careers of many of the state's school principals, or decide if an education program should be funded or not.
The club's most important members were Victorian Education Department deputy secretary Mr Rosewarne, school finance boss Nino Napoli and, to a lesser extent, regional director John Allman.
Their relative anonymity outside education circles was obliterated in dramatic form over several days last week, when a major IBAC inquiry exposed a series of allegedly corrupt and criminal activities by the men, led by Mr Napoli.
The inquiry has, in the manner of many publicly staged corruption exposes, included gruelling public examinations, phone taps, seized documents, bugged cafes and surveillance photos.
On the first hearing day, Mr Rosewarne's reputation was shredded and the public learned Mr Napoli had been sacked. Day three brought Mr Allman's sacking. By day five, IBAC had thoroughly exposed the way Mr Napoli and Mr Rosewarne used public funds to buy wine, overseas travel and expensive homewares.
All three now face the prospect of serious criminal charges. Two primary school principals implicated in the corruption scandal have been suspended.
Mr Napoli and Mr Rosewarne also used their powerful departmental positions to shut down anyone who dared question whether they were up to no good.
In coming weeks, IBAC will unveil a further web of alleged corruption involving millions of dollars meant for schools being allegedly used to enrich Mr Napoli and some members of his extended family, and to fund Mr Rosewarne's family travel and drinking habits.
One Education Department source who is closely watching the hearings and whose education program was denied funding by Mr Allman told The Sunday Age: "Every child at a state school has been betrayed in the most fundamental way.
"Perhaps what saps the morale of the sector the most is that so much of the fraud was done at the expense of disadvantaged children. These entitled men were drinking, partying, holidaying and setting up their homes and families whilst disabled, disadvantaged children and families were falling through the widening gaps in education provision."
Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce, who is on several departmental committees, said people in the education sector were shocked by the IBAC revelations.
"There appears to be a range of activity going on in that you wouldn't dream of engaging in at a school level," he said.
Mr Pearce stressed that the conduct exposed was not indicative of a culture of largesse in state schools, which he said often struggled to find resources.
"We would have no reason to suspect that this sort of behaviour was occurring. We were aware there were Christmas parties and functions, but it always seemed they were above board," he said.
But not everyone was in the dark. The Sunday Age can reveal that long before IBAC got its teeth into the men of the Education Department, some of their colleagues tried to blow the whistle on alleged corruption.
Several women who have held senior positions in the department claim they were made redundant, pushed into meaningless jobs and vilified when they tried to raise integrity issues. Two sexual harassment claims against a former top male official yet to appear before IBAC, who was also a member of the men-only lunch club, also allegedly went nowhere.
Standing in the way of the women was Mr Rosewarne, the department's deputy and then acting secretary, and his friends. Each time women, particularly those in the audit, purchasing and finance areas of the department, began to question the so-called "banker schools" where Mr Rosewarne, Mr Napoli and Mr Allman hid money, or how alcohol or trips were being paid for, they were shut down.
One former senior official said "all the women who blew the whistle were sent for counselling". She described one instance where several top women found themselves relocated to the same office away from the department's Treasury Place headquarters after raising concerns.
"You were excluded from meetings, removed to other buildings and left to rot," she said.
IBAC heard this week that it took eight months for Mr Allman to sign off an internal 2010 audit that found the department's system of diverting millions of dollars into select "banker schools" was unlawful and presented a high risk of fraud. Despite its serious findings, the audit went nowhere.
In another case, Fairfax Media last year revealed that Mr Rosewarne had not acted on a secret report to him that revealed four of the department's top officials, including Mr Allman, had bought shares in a technology company chosen to build the ill-fated Ultranet IT system.
Another woman who worked in the department's accredited purchasing unit tried to raise concerns about the use of corporate cards by senior officials, such as Mr Rosewarne, was allegedly told by Mr Rosewarne that her job was to be "restructured". She went on leave and was then seconded to another government department.
"It was all lunches and mates. I was told once by Nino [Napoli] that I had to select a certain company for a tender because Jeff [Rosewarne] had made a promise in a corporate box at the AFL," she said.
Yet another woman who worked closely with Mr Napoli for years said it was well-known that banker schools were being used inappropriately when "you wanted to pay for something on the quiet so there was no trace at head office".
"If you asked questions you were told you were not a team player," she said.
Mr Pearce said he expected – and would welcome – major reforms following the IBAC hearings.
"Schools will be hammered with a much tougher regime of probity. This has already been signalled to schools. Schools need to be much more alert to risk associated with dealing with contractors, employment of family members and acting for personal gain," he said.
Before any reforms are announced, the lunch club members have weeks more scrutiny to endure. Mr Rosewarne, who is on leave from his job as a director of the Catholic Education Office, has claimed he did not recall departmental monies being used to pay on behalf of the lunch club.
He also denied knowing companies associated with Mr Napoli and his family had been receiving large departmental and school contracts since the mid-1990s, despite several invoices from these companies being addressed to him.
Mr Allman told IBAC he had met members of Mr Napoli's immediate family, but was unaware of any commercial links to the department until he was questioned by IBAC investigators.
Those denials are likely to be subject to scrutiny when the lunch club's founding member, Mr Napoli, finally takes the IBAC witness stand.