A Canberra woman who intervened in a public attack on a teenage school girl says she was stunned to see other members of the public continue to walk by, labelling the behaviour as “disgraceful”.

Tennille Topley, 35, said her family had just stopped for petrol at a service station in Mawson on Thursday afternoon when she spotted a commotion allegedly involving “about 30 teenagers”.

“When we pulled up, they were in a circle and a young girl on the ground getting bashed, getting attacked,” Ms Topley said.

“There were lots of kids out with their phones, taping the whole thing.”

Ms Topley said the teenage girl being attacked, by another girl, was “tiny”.

“I jumped out [of the car]. I’m like, ‘What the hell are you doing? This is not okay. Do you not have nothing better to do? F*** off out of here’,” Ms Topley said.

“That’s when most of them started fleeing, but a few kept hanging around.

“I said, ‘This is all on footage. So, if you want to hang around for the police to come, you can all give statements, but I suggest you get out of here.'”

Ms Topley said she called a police station in Canberra’s south rather than triple-0, and told an officer she had witnessed an attack, urging police to come quickly as the teen “was not okay”.

“The police response was, ‘Can we talk to the girl who’s been attacked.’ I said, ‘Well she’s on the ground, she’s holding her head, she has a big lump on her head, and she’s crying. She’s not okay, can you just come?'”

Ms Topley said she put the girl on the phone for a “brief conversation” and then waited for the police to arrive.

She said about 10 minutes later a car driven by the mother of the injured girl’s friend arrived to take the teen to safety.

Ms Topley waited by herself for the police, but she said they never came.

A Facebook post details Tennille's version of events after witnessing an assault.
Tennille Topley took to social media to express her frustration that other adults didn’t intervene.(Facebook)

Police and Education Directorate investigating

In a statement, an ACT Policing spokesman said police had attended the scene but could not confirm their response time.

“ACT Policing responded to reports of an assault at a Mawson service station on Thursday afternoon,” the statement said.

“The victim’s mother contacted police [on Thursday] as the victim was receiving treatment for her injuries.

“Police have spoken with the mother again and an investigation into the incident has commenced.”

The victim was taken to hospital with a suspected concussion but was later released.

Ms Topley said the most disturbing part of the incident was that she was the only person to help the girl.

“There were a lot of adults … walking past, going in to pay and not doing a single thing about what was going on. They just kept about their business. They didn’t try to step in or anything,” she said.

She took to Facebook to express her disapproval and was inundated with messages — including several from the teenage girl’s mother asking her to “let Facebook know my daughter is okay, okay as can be”.

AFP car
ACT Policing said they attended the scene, but could not confirm their response time.(ABC News: Kathleen Dyett)

In a statement, the ACT Education Directorate said they were “aware of an incident” that occurred off school grounds and outside of school hours.

“Bullying and violence are never acceptable. If any student or family needs support we encourage them to contact their school in the first instance,” a spokesman said.

Ms Topley said several of the students had been wearing a school uniform.

The Directorate confirmed they had been working with one particular school after being made aware of the assault.

The ABC has chosen not to name the schools of the students involved, so as not to identify the victim of the attack.

Last year, the ACT Legislative Assembly held an inquiry into school violence and bullying which heard in closed hearings from parents whose children had experienced similar attacks.

The inquiry found bullying in Canberra schools was not common, but some cases had been handled poorly due to poor communication, reporting and staff training.

Extracted in full from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-29/canberra-high-school-student-group-assault-mawson/12608460