Temporary reprieve for Malek Fahd

Malek Fahd Islamic school can continue to function on a temporary basis after an appeal lodged in the Federal Court by the school’s new board on 6 July was successful. The court ordered the Federal Government pay the school money owed and to continue monthly funding payments.

The Federal Government cut funding to the western Sydney school in April after an audit found the school’s former board, run by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, was making a profit.

The IEU has been standing by its 140 members at the school throughout the crisis, supporting them by:

Liaising directly with the Teacher Accreditation Director at NESA to ascertain the status and registration of pre and post 2004 teachers, and directly communicating updates to members.

Responding to the high volume of email and phone enquiries about entitlements and the status of the school.

Assigning two additional officers to manage the increased volume of phone call and emails.

Attending chapter meetings at all campuses with all members, including the Board Chairman’s meeting with staff and parents at Greenacre.

Delivery of PD designed specifically for Malek Fahd staff at Greenacre and Beaumont Hills campuses.

Assisting staff with their accreditation applications and making direct contact with ISTAA to expedite such applications.

Providing extensive information relating to job search, recruitment agencies and application processes.

Providing updates to members regarding the school’s court appearances and decisions.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham told the The Australian on 22 June, that “our focus is with the students, families and teachers working to minimise the disruption to the school community”.

The Union wrote to the Minister and raised serious and urgent concerns regarding the prospect of unemployment facing teachers and the severe disruption to students, especially Year 12, who would be sitting their Trials in Term 3 and completing their HSC courses. We asked the minister, “How the department will be working to provide practical assistance to teachers at Malek Fahd”?

The minister did not respond to our letter.

Instead, and after more than three weeks, we received a letter from the Minister’s Branch Office Manager Errol Bannister.

Unfortunately, but predictably, the response did a fantastic job avoiding our simple question and merely deferred teachers to the school’s board.

“I understand that you are concerned about the future of your members’ employment with the school and I would encourage your members to raise their concerns directly with the principal and board for further information.”

The Union, school board and principal all want to keep the school open, teachers teaching and students learning, but the department clearly does not care, or even pretend to.

Lubna Haddad