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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1483


Senator WALTERS(8.20) —Senator Michael Baume has just spoken about one of the areas that I was going to speak about. The last time I spoke on that, Senator Evans said that he would inquire and let us know what amendments the Government would make to overcome the problems that we had expressed. He has not come up with any and he is shaking his head now. He obviously has no intention of doing that, and I think this is an incredible situation. The Government still intends to force these young under-12-year-old girls to compete against boys and indeed to discriminate very clearly against the girls in this regard.

The Human Rights Commission, in its annual report which we have before us this evening, has taken up an area that we were very concerned about; that is, education in the human rights area. I have spoken on this before and at that time I indicated that there was in the Parliament concern that young children should be discriminated against when they first went to school in that teachers are told that they must get rid of the children's stereotypes of their parents' teaching. I quote the following passage from the teachings of the Human Rights Commission when it gives advice to teachers on the setting up of the classroom:

In the first few weeks of the school year the teacher can challenge some of the learned behaviours that do not seem to encourage children's rights and by careful selection expose children to a wide and varied range of positive thinking about themselves and others.

That all sounds good, and it goes on:

Children come to school with some fairly set ideas. A lot of these are sex role stereotypes. A lot of work has been done and has got to be done with non-sexist education with the class to begin the human rights integrated approach. This should be done in the first four weeks of the school year. The particular grade in mind for the unit of work in this approach is first grade but mood of the ideas should be used with kindergarten.

So the Human Rights Commission supports the getting rid, in the first four weeks of the school year, of the stereotype roles that those tiny children bring to school from home. It goes on:

The teacher can make rules, for example, no one plays with the cars unless there are equal boys and girls playing with the cars in the kindergarten corner or the paper dolls don't go out unless one boy at least is in the group.

The girls cannot play with the paper dolls unless one boy in the group is prepared to play with them with the little girls. I have spoken about this previously and, because we have shown that concern, the Human Rights Commission in this report tends to take us to task. It says that concern was shown in the Parliament in some of these areas; that Mr Ralph Petman had won acclaim overseas; that the United Nations had asked him to go ahead and write a report; and that this was the first time any country had been asked to do such a report.

I believe this is wrong. I do not care what the Human Rights Commission thinks of the rights or wrongs of brainwashing little children in their first four weeks of school into believing everything that they were taught at home, everything that their parents taught them, is wrong. I am not particularly concerned with what the Human Rights Commission believes on that. It says that, because Mr Ralph Petman was invited by the United Nations to promote human rights teaching in this way, everything in the garden must be rosy. Everything is far from rosy. The parents of Australia do not concur with the Human Rights Commission and it is time that it decided to find out what the people of Australia want it to do rather than follow its own high-blown ideas about it.