A Kalianna School student has been assaulted while on an excursion in Hargreaves Mall.
The male student was struck in the face by another young person near the bus stop on the corner of Hargreaves and Mitchell streets about 3pm on Monday.
He and his class were in the Bendigo CBD for their school’s independent travel program, which teaches students how to use public transport, and were about to commute home when the attack occurred.
The victim was seen after the attack sitting on the ground with blood around his mouth.
He was later taken to Bendigo Health in a stable condition, and was treated for cuts to his face, an Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said.
Kalianna School Bendigo is a special development school for students living with a physical or intellectual disability.
Principal Peter Bush described the incident as upsetting for the student, his classmates and teachers who had accompanied the school group.
Counsellors were already providing support to those who witnessed the assault.
“It’s disappointing that students saw it and it’s been distressing for them,” Mr Bush said.
“It’s going to put their learning and their confidence on the back-burner.”
While the incident would not deter the school from taking students into the CBD, the principal said the program’s risk management strategies would need to be reassessed.
Bendigo police have confirmed they are investigating.
Monday’s attack follows ongoing concerns about the safety of people who use Hargreaves Mall.
Scope Loddon Mallee regional manager Mary Sullivan, whose organisation supports people with physical and intellectual disabilities, said the incident was out of character for Bendigonians, who usually went “out of their way” to help her clients.
“The sad thing is, the majority of people are welcoming and want to do their best, so you don't want the one incident to say, ‘that's what people in Bendigo are like’,” she said.