A dive instructor has defended his role in helping young people get through a tough time, saying he was a “super hero” for his work.
The New South Wales diving community has rallied behind the instructor, Mark Thomas, after he was suspended from his job for “unsolicited” advice.
“I’m not a hero, I’m not somebody who’s going to get into trouble for speaking my mind,” Mr Thomas told the ABC’s Four Corners program on Tuesday.
Mr Thomas has previously been suspended by the NSW Diving Association for his role as a “senior dive instructor”.
Mr Thompson, the owner of the New South Gippsland Dive School, said he was “shocked and disgusted” to hear Mr Thomas had been suspended from teaching after the organisation’s board of directors found that he had “unlawfully and maliciously encouraged, encouraged and instigated bullying against a member of the Diving and Recreation Association”.
“This is absolutely outrageous, this is absolutely beyond the pale,” Mr Thompson said.
Mark Thomas’ suspension is “unacceptable and I would have no hesitation in saying that it’s an assault on all of us”.
A Diving NSW board member, who wished to remain anonymous, said Mr Thomas’s actions were “extremely inappropriate” and “unprofessional”.
The board member said the disciplinary action was based on the DSCA’s report of “unfair conduct” against Mr Thomas.
In a statement, the DSA said: “We have a zero tolerance policy on bullying and intimidation of any kind and we stand by the decision to suspend Mark Thomas.”
Mr Thomases’ suspension comes as the DSTA has stepped up its training for young people after the DSPA, which represents about 2,000 people in the state, suspended its chief executive last week.
The DSPB is also investigating whether Mr Thomas should have been sacked earlier.
It was not clear how many young people were involved in Mr Thomas’ offending.
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