Racism officers rejected


Education reporter

FORCING every public school principal to designate a teacher as "racism officer" has little relevance for the Tweed, according to a local Teachers Federation representative.

Banora Point High's Phil Whitehead said racism was not a problem at Tweed schools and racism officers were an attempt to use the school environment to combat a broad social problem.

Premier Morris Iemma was yesterday due to announce the statewide racism officers as a way of encouraging respect for authority figures, part of a package of measures aiming to stop the spread of victimisation and violence after riots at Redfern, Macquarie Fields, Dubbo and Cronulla.

In the past month, the Premier has announced a taser gun trial and water cannon for the police riot squad and increased police numbers.

Anti-racism officers are supposed to have been present in NSW schools since 2003, the Education Department's website shows, but the idea was first announced in 1993 by the former Coalition government.

Mr Iemma's office said the racism officer plan was never implemented properly.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maree O'Halloran said there was already a strong anti-racism policy in the Education Department.

Mr Whitehead said: "Any discrimination on the basis of religion, gender or race is very well covered in the department's welfare and discipline policies."

He said any punishment for racism included education on appropriate behaviour.

Mr Whitehead said his own view was that Premier Iemma's bid to enforce racism officers in every school was not really needed on the Tweed.

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