‘Untenable’ Norfolk Island education situation on the shoulders of Morrison, union says

By Melissa Coade

Wednesday June 2, 2021

Nola Marino
A representative from the Norfolk Island Central School has flown to Canberra, hoping to meet with Assistant Minister Nola Marino. Image: Nola Marino (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The Norfolk Island Central School is in the dark over which education provider it will have from next year, leaving the island in an untenable position.

Susie Hale, a representative from the Norfolk Island Central School, said she had been trying to engage with federal Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino since May 12. Hale has now flown to Canberra to raise her concerns but said Marino informed her on Monday that she would not be taking any further meetings this week.

In a statement issued by the Teachers Federation, Hale said that while the issue remained unresolved Norfolk Island students, teachers and parents were stressed and suffering. 

“The uncertainty with respect to ongoing provision of education has been going on for two years,” Hale said.

“The community remains out in the cold without an answer as to who will provide education on Norfolk Island in the immediate future.”

According to Hale and NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos, who has joined her in Canberra, petitioning the federal government in the nation’s capital is their only option given the ‘lack of urgency and communication from the Commonwealth’.

Gavrielatos described the government’s silence as a ‘deliberate snub and insult’ to the Norfolk Island community and said the situation had reached ‘crisis point’ for the island.

“We are talking about continuity of public education for the children of Norfolk Island. This needs to be sorted out now. The disregard for the needs of Norfolk Island’s children and community must stop,” Gavrielatos said.

“The Assistant Minister couldn’t even find 15 minutes to meet despite the request for a meeting over 3 weeks ago.”

While in Canberra the pair will be meeting with Norfolk Island MP David Smith, Labor’s Jason Clare and Greens Senator Larissa Waters.

Should the federal government continue to remain silent on the issue over which education provider will service the Norfolk Island Central School from 2022, Hale said that ‘further action would be taken’, hinting at a teachers’ strike.

“Norfolk Island is a long way from Canberra. Maybe our actions have to be louder so that someone listens,” she said.

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