Probe into Year 3 asylum seeker petitionDecember 20, 2016
A SYDNEY public school has transformed its nine-year-old students into political activists, having them launch a petition against child refugees in detention.
Helensburgh Public School is being investigated by the NSW Department of Education after the petition from its Year 3 students, who said they were “heartbroken” after learning about “trapped” children “with no certainly and little hope” living in “detention-like conditions”, was sent to politicians.
The department confirmed it was investigating possible involvement of staff in the matter.
The southern NSW school’s principal, Chris Connor is a former Labor deputy mayor and current councillor at Wollongong Council.
Printed on school letterhead, Helensburgh’s Year 3 class has sent a letter to pollies describing the Turnbull Government’s border protection policies as “cruel”.
The letter is signed “Friends of Children in Detention” — despite the fact there are no remaining children in offshore detention centres.
“There are more than one hundred children on Nauru, who are living in detention-like conditions, trapped, with no hope for a better life,” the letter from Class 3L states.
“There are more than 300 children in community detention in Australia, with no certainty and little hope.”Children as young as nine are being urged to sign the petition.Chris Conner, principal of Helensburgh Public School.
Accompanying the letter were handwritten messages and drawings of children behind bars from the Class 3L.
Some of the messages read: “Don’t put them in Jail”, “Don’t’ put them in so much harm,” “Your dung politicians” and “My heart is broken.”
The Department of Education slammed the public school’s political petition as “totally inappropriate.”
“The Department is investigating the involvement of staff in this matter and will take appropriate disciplinary action,” a spokesman said.
Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm was one politician disturbed to receive the letter this week and wrote to NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli demanding action.
“What we’ve seen is a decline in education standards. What’s obvious is teachers are being diverted from teaching useful things to politics,” he said.
Some of the art produced by students about the plight of refugees.Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm received this letter from the class.
“I”m sympathetic to immigration but I don’t accept arguments about children in detention and behind bars, which are the pictures they were drawing.”
The letter calls on all refugees to be processed and resettled. “When this is done, the effects of our Government’s’ cruel policies on these children can start to be addressed,” it states.
Year 3 parent Guy Reynolds’, whose two children were not in the petitioning class, said he was “really annoyed” political ideology had been pushed onto children.
“No Year 3 child is ever going to say ‘let’s start a petition and send it to Senator Leyonhjelm’,” he said.
“The Asylum seekers and Refugee Processing camp on the island of Nauru.
“That has been put into their heads. I don’t want kids being used as political pawns by any party.”
Mr Reynolds said his children were protected from politics and wanted teachers to focus on education.
“Given the current issues with literacy and numeracy, I want the teachers to focus on those things,” he said.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton agreed with Mr Reynolds that “children shouldn’t be used as political pawns.”
First Published in The Daily Telegraph