A school un­der siege from tourist cam­eras

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - BEN PIKE

WHEN you think of Syd­ney’s ma­jor at­trac­tions, Glebe Public School prob­a­bly doesn’t rank with the Har­bour Bridge and Opera House, yet it has been forced to put up signs urg­ing tourists not to pho­to­graph its stu­dents.

In what NSW La­bor ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Ji­had Dib has de­scribed as “a worry”, the in­ner west Syd­ney school has in­stalled signs in mul­ti­ple lan­guages stat­ing: “Please do not take pho­tos of the Glebe Public School stu­dents”.

Tourist buses reg­u­larly park out­side the school be­fore head­ing to the nearby Univer­sity of Syd­ney.

De­spite the signs be­ing more than a year old, con- struc­tion work­ers help­ing ren­o­vate the school said they have to con­stantly tell tourists to get off school grounds.

“Every week I am telling tourists to stop tak­ing pho­tos of the kids,” one said. “A lot of them are also com­ing on to the grounds and I have to go and fish them out. They think the school is a park.”

The signs were in­stalled fol­low­ing a flood of com­plaints from par­ents.

The school con­sulted with po­lice, City of Syd­ney coun­cil and the Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment. The warn­ings are writ­ten in English, Man­darin and Span­ish and placed along the school’s Derwent St en­trance.

“I think it is fair enough that you don’t take pho­to­graphs of kids through the school gate,” Glebe Public School P & C As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Ver­ity Firth said.

“The par­ents thought it was a sen­si­ble pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure fol­low­ing a num­ber of in­ci­dents of tourists tak­ing pho­to­graphs.”

Ms Firth said the move was a safety mea­sure rather than a di­rect re­ac­tion to “any­thing ne­far­i­ous go­ing on”.

Mother Su­nita Mizar, 44, said she would feel un­com­fort­able if some­one pho­tographed her seven-year-old daugh­ter Siy­ona Berghams with­out per­mis­sion.

“I would im­me­di­ately ask them why they are tak­ing her pic­ture,” Mrs Mizar said.

“They have put th­ese signs here for a rea­son.

“The school is do­ing some- thing to pro­tect chil­dren which is the right thing. I can’t imag­ine why some­one would want to take a photo of a schoolkid.”

A De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion spokes­woman said it dis­cour­ages any­one tak­ing pho­to­graphs from out­side of school grounds to en­sure the pri­vacy of stu­dents and staff.

“The school ad­vises that … peo­ple are re­spect­ful of the school’s re­quest not to pho­to­graph stu­dents and very few peo­ple need to be re­minded,” she said.

The spokes­woman did not an­swer our ques­tion if any other schools had made sim­i­lar re­quests.

Mr Dib said it was a worry if tourists were tak­ing pho­to­graphs of the kids.

“In most cases there would be no mal­ice but you just can’t take that risk,” Mr Dib said. “The most im­por­tant thing is to pro­tect the chil­dren. There could also be court or­ders on iden­ti­fy­ing chil­dren in a pho­to­graph.”

As with Mr Dib, NSW Pri­mary Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Phil Sey­mour said he has never seen such a sign be­fore.

“If you want to take a child’s pho­to­graph you need to get per­mis­sion from the par­ents,” Mr Sey­mour said.

“Tak­ing pho­tos from the street is not ap­pro­pri­ate.”

A tourist bus driver who was at Glebe on Thurs­day said tour com­pa­nies need to tell their clients that it is not OK to take pic­tures of kids.

Pic­ture: Sam Rut­tyn

Su­nita Mizar and daugh­ter Siy­ona Berghams are pleased Glebe Public School has taken steps to pro­tect its stu­dents.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.