Trained staff to iden­tify school rad­i­cals

Pilbara News - - News - Bethany Hi­att

Key Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment staff are be­ing trained to iden­tify signs of rad­i­cal­ism in stu­dents in WA pub­lic schools.

Shadow ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Sue Ellery used a par­lia­men­tary hear­ing last week to ask the depart­ment what it was do­ing to help schools deal with stu­dents at risk of be­ing “groomed” to com­mit “ter­ror­ism-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties”.

Di­rec­tor-gen­eral Sharyn O’Neill said 14 staff had been trained to iden­tify warn­ing signs that could lead to ex­trem­ist be­hav­iour.

More staff, mainly psy­chol­o­gists, would re­ceive train­ing early next year.

“I think it’s fair to say it’s very high on our radar,” she said.

Ms O’Neill said the depart­ment was work­ing with po­lice to de­velop a re­fer­ral process for school-age youth and it was in­volved in na­tional groups aimed at pre­vent­ing vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

“Com­pared with other States, we haven’t had the kind of in­stances they have had,” she said.

Out­side the hear­ing, Ms O’Neill said dis­cus­sions were be­ing held on how to sup­port stu­dents who might be sus­cep­ti­ble to an­ti­so­cial or crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

She said the trained staff would watch for stu­dent be­hav­iour that could pre­cede an in­ter­est in ex­trem­ism, such as with­draw­ing from groups or lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“The role of our teach­ers is al­ways to have an eye to stu­dent wel­fare,” Ms O’Neill said.

“So we don’t make judg­ments about whether stu­dents are be­com­ing rad­i­calised, as peo­ple might de­scribe it, but our work is al­ways about pro­vid­ing sup­port for kids who are feel­ing marginalised or dis­af­fected.”

Pic­ture: Michael Wil­son

Shadow ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Sue Ellery.

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