Business manager

Former Melbourne High School business manager Frances Walshe admits stealing $350,000

The former Melbourne High School business manager has admitted to stealing more than $350,000 from the school for nearly a decade while overseeing its multi-million dollar finances.

Frances Walshe, who was praised in the school’s 2020 annual report for managing her finances “in the most efficient and effective way”, faced Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to 10 counts of theft and one of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

Melbourne High School.Credit:André De La Rue

Charge sheets released by the court show Walshe, 65, stole a total of $358,500 from the school between early 2012 and September last year.

A separate charge says she also defrauded the school of $77,000 between 2016 and last year by altering payee details on invoices.

“Guilty, your honor,” Walshe said when asked Wednesday to enter a plea during the online hearing.

Principal Tony Mordini confirmed that Walshe had worked at the school for “a long time” overseeing its budgets and financial records.

Figures from My School show that Melbourne High School has an annual budget of over $20 million. Located in South Yarra, it is Victoria’s only selective entry government school for boys.

Mordini said Walshe resigned late last year as soon as his infraction was discovered following an internal review of the school’s finances once the discrepancies were detected.

“The school acted immediately once the school identified any anomalies, and the school is confident that it acted appropriately in its responsibilities and in contacting authorities,” he said.