Department staff to support principals during extremism audit

by Brett Henebery30 Jul 2015

Responding to questions around how the NSW Government’s audit into school prayer groups would work, a spokesman for Premier, Mike Baird, told The Educator that principals would be given support by qualified department staff during the audit.

“The audit of prayer groups is being conducted to establish if there is a problem with violent extremist ideologies,” the spokesman told The Educator.

“The directors of Public Schools NSW, who provide support to principals, will complete the audit for each of their schools.”

When asked how long the audit was likely to take, the spokesman said it was anticipated that it would be “completed within weeks.”

Meanwhile, a Muslim community spokeswoman accused the Premier of reacting to headlines without consulting the appropriate community groups before the audit was announced on Tuesday.

Australian Muslim Women's Association spokeswoman, Silma Ihram, a former school principal, said that questions remained as to how the audit would specifically be conducted.

"He's auditing all religions, what's that going to do? Is that a head count?" Ihram said.

"The people he's nominating have no idea about the extent of what can and cannot be said in a Friday prayer.
"How do they recognise that a student has been radicalised?"

Baird responded to Ihram’s concerns during an interview on Wednesday morning with Linda Mottram on 702 ABC.

“What we need to do is work together, and I’ve been incredibly impressed and supported by the Muslim leadership more broadly. We’re in the midst of seeking their support as to how we deal with this,” Baird said.

“There are a range of issues through that process that we anticipate will emerge, and we’ll [work through these] together, because the only way we will be successful in combating this extremism is by doing it together with Muslim leaders.”

Tuesday’s announcement of a state-wide audit into public school prayer groups followed allegations a Year 12 student at Epping Boys High was preaching radical beliefs to fellow students.

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