Australian Story: Nov 4

ABC profiles the Kempsey principal who doesn't give up on disadvantaged children.

Tonight on Australian Story, the Kempsey principal who doesn’t give up on disadvantaged children.

In the NSW mid coast town of Kemspey, principal Mark Morrison brushes close to the rules to give troubled teens their last chance at a high school education.

At Macleay Vocational College, the former private school teacher and rugby league coach does whatever it takes to get student past the high security fence and into a classroom.

“No one else would take [on the job]. He’d be the only sort of person to take it on,” says David Mulford, former principal of Newington College, Sydney.

These kids mostly come from generational disadvantage, where poverty, drug addiction, domestic violence and/or cultural trauma is the norm.

“A lot of the people that come to this school come from disadvantaged backgrounds, like fathers that have been in jail and mothers that don’t care about them,” says MVC student Nigel Kennedy, 16.

Life has taught them unacceptable behaviour, but Mark Morrison hasn’t given up on them.

He’s set up a creche for teen mums studying for their HSC and holds sex ed in jail classes for boys who often have first-hand experience with the juvenile justice system.

At night he’ll deliver hot meals to families with no food and sometimes no electricity, then respond to call from police about one of his students in trouble with law.

In fact, as the end of the school calendar draws close, he’s looking at a record-breaking number of student graduations.

Producer: Kristine Taylor

8pm tonight on ABC.

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