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Former Geelong Grammar schoolgirl suing prestigious college for ski accident

A former private schoolgirl is suing her prestigious college for negligence after she fell from an 80m cliff during a class trip to the snow.

Milla Austin suffered horrific injuries, including a shattered pelvis and dislocated hip, during the 2014 fall, which occurred during Geelong Grammar’s Year 9 Timbertop ski program. 

The then-15-year-old had accessed the top of Men’s Downhill of Mt Buller in the Victorian Alps, a more challenging part of the mountain that she claims her teachers should have closed to the students.

Ms Austin plunged from the icy and rocky 80m cliff face after her ski got caught under a tree root.

She was certain she would die in the fall and still suffers PTSD and anxiety six years on, Herald Sun reported.

The medical team which treated her said if it weren’t for her helmet, Ms Austin would have died.

Ms Austin, now 21, filed proceedings in the County Court against Geelong Grammar seeking special damages for past and future medical expenses. 

She already endured three surgeries and a three month stint in hospital to fix her broken and displaced bones, and will likely require a hip replacement before she is 25.

Subsequent surgeries are expected to total almost $250,000. 

Her lawyer will also seek compensation for loss of income because her capabilities in the workforce have been significantly narrowed since the injury. 

Ms Austin’s lawsuit argues the teachers present on the trip failed to adequately supervise students by allowing them to venture off to more challenging parts of the mountain range, particularly during difficult weather conditions.     

Slater and Gordon Public Liability lawyer Andrew Theodore said the school were responsible for supervising the students.

Mr Theodore said lacked ‘any, or adequate, supervision by school staff on the trip’.

‘The school should not have allowed children under their care, such as Milla, to access such a dangerous ski run unaccompanied, particularly in poor ski conditions,’ Mr Theodore said.

The exclusive school charges upwards of $72,000 per year, which includes boarding fees but not music lessons, booklists, skiing or extra tutoring. 

Six years on, Ms Austin has accepted that she will never be able to run properly again, but said she lives with the constant fear and anxiety of a looming major surgery.  

‘I’m always feeling as though I’m in danger or under threat, even when things are fine,’ she said.

‘It comes out in panic attacks… even little things can trigger me… its definitely changed my life.’ 

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