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Teaching 'respect' must be top priority at Summit.



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JOINT STATEMENT

THE HON KIM C BEAZLEY MP LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

And

JENNY MACKLIN MP DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, TRAINING AND RESEARCH

23 August 2005

TEACHING ‘RESPECT’ MUST BE TOP PRIORITY AT SUMMIT

The teaching of respect for Australian values of tolerance and democracy must be at the top of the agenda at today's Muslim Leader's Summit.

Whilst mainstream Australian-Muslim communities do not support extremist teachings in schools, we must also ensure individual classrooms do not deviate and present opportunities for extremism.

Funding for schools should also be conditional upon ensuring students are not exposed to extremist material or teachings.

A counter-terrorism strategy should consider:

• Teaching students respect for democratic values including their civic and legal responsibilities as Australian residents and citizens • Professional development for teachers to update their appreciation of and skills in teaching Australian community standards • ‘Buddy’ programs between schools to facilitate friendships between students from

different denominations and mixed school social activities • Conditions on schools funding to ensure that young Australians are not taught with inflammatory material at school.

These are common sense plans that can achieve practical results.

That's why its disappointing the Minister for Education was not invited to the Summit. Nevertheless there must be a focus on the teaching of respect for Australian values if we are to defeat extremism.

We must ensure that Australian values like respect, tolerance, diversity and mateship are promoted across all schools and students are taught the responsibilities that come with being a member of the Australian community.

Such programs are already in place in many Muslim Schools to great effect and should be incorporated into a national strategy.

If we are serious about fighting terrorism in Australia we must use education as part of a strategy to combat extremism and promote tolerance.

It is vital for our national effort to prevent terrorism that all Australian schools meet high standards of transparency and accountability.

That’s why it is reasonable for funding to be tied to requirements to exclude extremist or inflammatory teachings.

We urge the Prime Minister and Muslim Leaders to adopt these resolutions.

Contact: George Svigos: 0417 196 836

23 AUGUST 2005