The Teachers for Refugees pressure group presented its case to IEU Council in June, asking for more support from the non government school sector.
Speaker Mark Goudkamp, who teaches at an intensive English centre in the public system, outlined the history of Teachers for Refugees, which developed at the same time as groups such as Doctors for Refugees and Mums for Refugees in 2015.
Some teachers who ‘blew the whistle’ on conditions in schools on Nauru had played an important role in the debate.
Mark said many of Teachers for Refugees’ action have fallen foul of the Murdock press and federal and state governments.
Last year Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull labelled the group wearing their t-shirts in schools “totally inappropriate”.
Mark said (ironically): “How dare teachers brainwash children with ideas about social justice and human rights”?
He said he had been hauled in front of his principal for disciplinary action due to his activism.
Indeed, one member of Council said he had been ‘spoken to’ after some of his students decide to mount a protect action about refugees.
Mark said teaching about refugees was part of the Australian curriculum and teachers had a duty to discuss such issues. If students decided to take action, that was out of the teachers’ control. Mark said he was delighted to address council and encourage more teachers from diverse sectors to be involved with Teachers for Refugees.
To find out more about Teachers for Refugees see https://www.facebook.com/t4refugees/