Fury as 85 school staff read they had been sacked in newspaper

Dozens of people rallied outside a Uniting Church office in Brisbane after more than half the staff at a Townsville Indigenous school criticised by a royal commission were given the sack.

The group of about 50, brought together by the Independent Education Union, stood outside the Milton office on Thursday morning calling for compensation for the 85 staff members let go at Shalom Christian College.

Earlier this month, the school announced it would be closing its secondary school and no longer taking boarders, following a review.

According to IEU Queensland president Andrew Elphinstone, the teachers and school staff found out their jobs would not be renewed next year from a story published in a Townsville newspaper last Monday.

"It is a shame they haven't had a chance to solve the problems, they are just walking away from it," he said.

It is understood approximately 125 staff were employed at the school, with 85 cut as of next year in line with the closure of Shalom's secondary school and boarding facilities.

"The interesting thing for the school is that they are catering for this difference but now they are walking away because it is too hard to support the kids," Mr Elphinstone.

The Townsville school was part of the child sex abuse royal commission regarding the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old girl on campus in 2006.

Speaking to the commission last year, the child's parents said the college had not looked after their daughter's interests medically, psychologically or legally and counsel assisting the royal commission harshly criticised the school.

Former Shalom principal Christopher Shirley was questioned about his handling of the incident and told the commission he guessed there "would probably" be "five (sex assault allegations) a term, 20 a year".

In a statement published to the Uniting Church website, Reverend David Baker said the closure was the result of an eight-month renewal strategy process for the school.

"The College will shift its focus to primary education only from next year, with secondary schooling to cease from the end of the current school year," he said.

He said Uniting Church would work with the Department of Education and Training along with the private school sector to find places for students throughout Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

"We'll also reach out to nearby schools to help our valued staff secure employment opportunities," he said.

"This will no doubt be distressing news for many people, and we apologise to those who will be affected by the changes."

Mr Elphinstone said many of the schools in the area may not be able to cater to the students.

"Shalom is a boarding school and has a significant number of kids who come from regional and remote areas," Mr Elphinstone said.

"It was set up to focus on Indigenous education."

The Uniting Church took over the school in 2013 after its previous owners, the Congress Community Development and Education Unit went into voluntary administration.

- With AAP

This story Fury as 85 school staff read they had been sacked in newspaper first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.