Department acts swiftly on Federation survey

The Federation continues to pursue the Department around the training of its Anti-Racism Contact Officers, Multicultural Officer/Organiser Amber Flohm told Federation’s annual conference on July 5.

She told delegates Federation informed the Department of its survey finding that nearly one quarter of respondents indicated they did not have an Anti-Racism Contact Officers (ARCOs) in their school and 75 per cent of those who did have an ARCO were untrained.

“The Department’s action was swift,” once the Department learned 23 per cent of schools replied to Federation’s survey, Ms Flohm said.

“They undertook their own survey of principals to ascertain the number of ARCOs and training requirements across public schools and they issued a new implementation document for their anti-racism policy called ‘Anti-racism education: Advice for Schools, November 2015’.

“This included an explicit principal’s checklist for anti-racism education among other things which includes strict implementation and reporting requirements to ensure compliance with the relevant legislations.

“The Department’s own policy in this area mandates that schools have trained Anti-Racism Contact Officers in order to provide timely and professional responses to complaints regarding racism. Previously the training of ARCOs was provided at a district level and encompassed two days release for this professional learning.

“Federation has continued to push the Department to provide those members training to be ARCOs with the associated release time commensurate with the training requirements, as well as implementation of the role back in schools.

“Federation is pleased to report that significant movement has occurred in this area and hopes to be able to advise members soon that this release time is forthcoming.”

Ms Flohm said Federation continued to address countless individual, school and system based issues in the areas of Intensive English Centres, Saturday Schools, AMES and English an Additional Language/Dialect, as well as in policy, industrial representations and political lobbying.

She also reported on research by Dr Christina Ho from UTS, whose analysis of My School data shows schools are becoming far more segregated in terms of class and ethnicity.

“The long term impact in the name of choice has seen Australian governments’ education policies push our schools in the direction of segregation and division,” Ms Flohm said.

“This will enable true social inclusion and cohesion in Australia, where students from a language background other than English will feel as valued and as represented in society as Anglo-Australian from middle class backgrounds do now.

“Dr Ho’s research highlights our need to continually promote and enhance the model of the local comprehensive public school, where the children of our society grow up together, play together, learn together, share one another’s values and learn to respect them and then walk home together through the same neighbourhood

Ms Flohm’s report also covered the positive impact of Gonski dollars on the English an Additional Language/Dialect education, refugee matters and community campaigning.

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