Pringle vindicated as teen admits making up assault
THE Australian Muster Experience program which teaches disadvantaged students how to be jackaroos will resume after a teenager who claimed he was assaulted by owner Gordon Pringle retracted the allegation.
Police and the Federal Department of Education are investigating the allegations which were made last year by five students from Djarragun College’s Wangetti campus sent to the six-month AME program at Mount Mulligan, owned and operated by local tourism identity Gordon Pringle.
The five students, who were among a group of 16 teenagers from the college taking part in the program, sparked an overnight search involving a helicopter after running into the bush last year.
After being found, the boys made allegations of being assaulted to Cairns police and the jackaroo program collapsed.
Djarragun principal Jean Illingworth said the program at Mount Mulligan had ceased when she learned none of the operators held a Blue Card required to work with children.
“The young men in attendance at the Australian Muster Experience were nonacademic students whose circumstance and lifestyle does not fit with a classic education,” she said.
“The Australian Muster Experience provided a program that boosted self-esteem and life skills.”
Ms Illingworth said one of the students at the centre of the incident has provided a signed statement outlining the reasons for fabricating the assault claim against Mr Pringle.
“The student in question is very remorseful but unfortunately has been incarcerated (for another matter),” she said.
“I want to say that I did not tell the truth about what happened in the AME program at Mt Mulligan,” the student wrote.
“When the police questioned me I was really scared as I thought I was going to be sent to jail because I was on a good behaviour order.
“So I made up a story to get Gordon into trouble instead of us boys.
“The boys followed me and told the same lies.
“I am very sorry about what I did and I hope that I can come back to Djarragun to finish my education.”
Mr Pringle yesterday said he jackaroo program would return at Mount Mulligan but he could not make any further comments on the issue until the investigation is completed.