December 12, 2016
Media Release: Melbourne Teachers Vigil for Refugee Rights to Launch T-shirt action Monday
Teachers for Refugees will hold a vigil Monday 12th of December, at 6pm at the State Library to launch the Teachers for Refugees T-Shirt action.
Hundreds of teachers and refugee supporters will be attending the vigil to draw attention to the human rights abuses in the offshore camps. The group have sold out of t-shirts, and teachers have been creating their own with iron-on labels and screen prints and making badges so they can join the action.
Lucy Honan from Teachers for Refugees in Melbourne said “There is a human rights crisis in the offshore camps, and the government is afraid of teachers shining a light on it. Children are being abused, and do not have real access to education. Mental illness and self harm are widespread.The Manus detention centre was declared illegal in April. Billions of dollars have been spent on cruelty that should have been spent on our schools. It should come as no surprise to the government that teachers are calling for the camps to be closed.
“When teachers who worked on Nauru and Manus were threatened with two years gaol terms for speaking about the abuses they witnessed, they said ‘we won’t be silenced’. This week, we are saying the same.
“Some principals are supporting teachers to wear the shirts proudly to work, despite the departmental notice. Some teachers are defying intimidation tactics and planning to wear the t-shirts to class, others are finding ways to make sure our message is seen by our school communities by taking photos out the front of schools, or walking through the main street as a group with our t-shirts on.
“Nothing was said when teachers wore white ribbons in school to make a statement about domestic violence. The difference is that the violence against asylum seekers is government policy.”
The launch and the t-shirt action has been supported by The Victorian Trades Hall Council, the Australian Education Union and the National Tertiary Education Union, GetUp, the Refugee Council of Australia, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, VicTas Uniting Church for Refugees, The Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project, the Refugee Action Collective and Mums for Refugees.
Speakers at the vigil include;
Jane Willey, former teacher on Nauru
Justin Mullaly, Branch Secretary of the Australian Education Union
Sarevenaz Almasi, Kurdish refugee and maths teacher
Ellen Sandell, Greens MLA for Melbourne
Sally Morgan, teacher of refugees and asylum seekers at St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre
Thach Ly, Physics and Maths teacher and former refugee
Contact Lucy Honan, 0404728104 or Chris Breen 0403013183- please note we will be unavailable from 7:30am due to work, but will call back during lunch/recess and after school.