NSW Premier, Mike Baird, called the emergency meeting on Friday to investigate the matter along with law enforcement agencies and education officials, saying that he was “disturbed” by the reports.
The 17-year-old student is believed to be an acquaintance of alleged Sydney Jihadist, Milad bin Ahmad-Shah al-Ahmadzai, a former pupil at Epping Boys High.
“I am confident both the police and education authorities have been handling this problem skilfully, and that the safety of our students has been front-and-centre at all time," Baird told The Australian
“However, the issue reported this morning is highly disturbing and I have asked for an urgent briefing from both the Department of Education
and NSW Police."
Speaking at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Friday, Federal Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, said teachers must be trained to spot radicalised behaviour among students.
"Just as parents and families have gained a greater understanding of the dangers posed by online sexual predators there needs to be an increased awareness of the threat from online terrorist groups," Keenan said.
Exactly what approach should be taken continues to be matter of debate.
The Government’s “jihadi-watch” scheme wants to train teachers and students how to spot a potential terrorist including behavioural shifts such as getting into trouble, having fights with people of differing ideology and drifting away from friends.
However, it terms such as “potential jihadi” and “potential terrorist” which has irked some, including counter-radicalisation expert Clarke Jones and the Australian Multicultural Foundation’s (AMF) executive director, Hass Dellal.
The AMF’s Community Awareness Training Manual (CATM) is being rolled out nationwide, helping communities identify warning signs associated with anti-social and radicalised behaviour – minus the provocative labelling.
AMF executive director, Hass Dellal, told The Educator
last week that the Government’s counter-radicalisation was the wrong approach and “doomed for failure”.
“It is important to break down myths and misconceptions. Having a radical thought in itself isn’t a bad thing. It may mean you want to see big changes to society and may think there are things wrong with how things are now,” Dellal said.
“Some of our greatest leaders had radical ideas. It helps to develop innovation and creativity. Radical thinking only becomes a threat when individuals or groups engage in violence.”
Jones told The Educator
that the counter-productive language being used by the Abbott Government regarding student radicalisation is only compounding the issue and throwing fuel onto an already raging fire.
“When you increase the feelings of injustice and marginalisation, they feel further from the Government than they have in the past,” Jones said.
Addressing the issue of the student who allegedly preached extremist views in the playground, Epping Boys High School released a statement which appeared on the school’s website:
“It is important I emphasise that student safety, wellbeing and support is our absolute highest priority at all times,”
read the statement.
“School counsellors are available for all boys, if required, today or in the future. All normal lessons and activities are proceeding today according to timetable.”