News State QLD News Teachers evacuated from indigenous school
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Teachers evacuated from indigenous school

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Teachers in the Indigenous community of Aurukun in far north Queensland are being evacuated after children as young as six tried to steal a car.

It is the second time this month that teachers have been evacuated over safety concerns.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said a number of children were involved in the overnight incident.

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“[There was] a group of young people trying to steal a car, throwing rocks at security guards and people’s houses,” he said.

Mr Stewart said the latest incident occurred near homes where teachers were staying.

“I have great sympathy for the teachers,” he said.

“They’re not armed and they’re not trained to deal with the type of violence that sometimes occurs in those communities.”

Mr Stewart said Aurukun usually had a contingent of eight officers but there was currently 17 in the town.

He said there would be another increase in police numbers, but more officers were not the answer.

“You could put a hundred police in there, this is about the community stepping up when they’ve agreed to do that,” Mr Stewart said.

“I actually think parents have to be held to account.

“The community has to step up, parents have to step up to make Aurukun a safe place for everybody.”

QTU ‘wholeheartedly’ supports the removal of teachers

The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) said the extra police had not been able to prevent teachers from fearing for their safety.

President Kevin Bates said the teachers’ anxiety levels were high and they were under huge emotional strain.

“In response to increased concerns from staff the decision has been taken to withdraw [them] from the community until the end of this school term, so that they won’t return until the beginning of term three,” he said.

“The department has made it clear that if people don’t feel that they can return to the community then they’ll be supported to exit.

“People can’t live and work in these types of conditions with these stresses without suffering consequences.

“This is a proper decision by the employer and we support it wholeheartedly.”

Mr Bates said there was an alternative teaching program that could be provided to students in the absence of teachers.

Teachers had voted on Sunday to stay, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said they would leave the community immediately, with a decision about their return to be made closer to the new school term.

The Premier, who has met with ministers, directors general, and the Police Commissioner about the situation, said the safety of staff and the community had “always been the number one priority”.

“I’ve been advised that the teachers are feeling unsafe so we are going to get the teachers out. We need to have a strong presence on the ground to really help build the community capacity,” she said.

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