Archive for October, 2009


The main story on this week’s Behind the News, a children’s current affairs show, focuses on the issue of asylum seekers, people smugglers and refugees.

Very timely as a boat load of Sri Lankan refugees sit off the coast of Indonesia with no where to go. The Australian government had persuaded Indonesia to take them. But the Governor of the Indonesian province where they are supposed to be housed, has other ideas!

Un-bloody-believable!! Is this the Ruddbot government’s Tampa???

Please watch this. It is not just for kids.

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Just  in…another boat of desperate asylum seekers intercepted at Ashmore Reef.

Absolute fear’ pushing Tamils to Australia

Excerpt from the story….

“The mood is of absolute fear, of absolute lack of freedom. People go missing, people get abducted, there’s allegations of rape, torture, of Tamil people in custody as well as of Tamils in these internment camps,” she said.

“This asylum seeker issue has created a lot of hysteria and I would just like people to take a minute to stop and think about what these people, these asylum seekers, are putting themselves through to get to Australia.

“There must be something absolutely horrific that they’re trying to escape from in order to sell their property, sell their homes, sell any form of jewellery that they have to pay these people smugglers to get on these leaky boats, put their children on these leaky boats and leave Sri Lanka with just that little hope that they might find a better land.”

Dr Sam Pari

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Photographer : Joseph Wenkoff – Actnow website

If I had to live in conditions like these, I’d want to find somewhere else to live too!

I was prompted to write this post after receiving  my weekly email from BTN – Behind The News – an Australian current affairs show for kids and teachers. Next week they are doing a story on Asylum Seekers. This is an important area of inquiry for teachers to pursue with their students. That old chestnut of  “our kids are the future” is oh-so-true and it is vital that we educate our students about issues like this! So let’s get some facts right!

In case you haven’t heard, there has been a lot of debate in the Australian community concerning the plight of recent asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and from other developing nations. Both sides of politics are trying to play the hard line. Our Prime Minister is currently negotiating with Indonesia so that they will take the take these people and stop them entering Australia. Forget your election promise, Kev?

Interesting that it is only desperate people arriving by boat that are targeted – what about all the other “illegals” that arrive by other means – namely by plane? Never see them mentioned in the paper.

It’s an emotional subject and facts can sometimes get lost in the heat of the debate. So in case you were wondering…….

Who is a refugee?

  • is someone who is outside their home country because they believe they could be punished or harassed for  ….[reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion] and cannot be protected by their government.

Who is an Asylum seeker?

  • is someone who makes a claim for asylum in a country other than their own.

The terms refugee and asylum seeker are often used interchangeably because most refugees are at some point asylum seekers.


Some facts about asylum seekers and refugees who according to some, “jump the queue”!

  • people who claim asylum once in Australia often do not have the opportunity to apply offshore.

  • REPEAT…..do not have the opportunity to apply offshore.
  • Often the country they are coming from does not support the program, or they face persecution over their reasons for applying.
  • Applying for asylum once in Australia is not illegal, it is in line with UN protocol.

Why are they put in detention?

  • all persons within Australian borders must be detained if they do not possess either a valid visa or Australian citizenship. So not just boat people –  how often do you hear about  people  who overstay their visa  being detained? Nada. No political mileage in that!!!

  • Seeking asylum is not illegal, however Australia’s visa system is complex and makes it hard for refugees to apply successfully
  • Apart from often having poor English language skills, most asylum seekers are not familiar with Australian law
  • They do not know they have the right to ask, how to ask, or that it is in their best interest to ask for legal assistance.

And this little gem…..

Australia became a signatory to the [UN] Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1954 and 1973 respectively. Australia is therefore obligated to provide protection to both asylum seekers and refugees.

Need to hear that one again?

From Actnow

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Street art….

Taken with my iphone (how did I live without it??!) in Sydney’s Inner West….love the way this graffiti art is emerging on many buildings near where I live….





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Must read…

This post was supposed to go with the “Must read”  image I created from Image Chef’s Word Mosaic.

resized_9781741757743_224_297_FitSquareIf there is only one book you will read this year, you can’t go past Craig Sylvie’s Jasper Jones. Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!

Set in the 1960’s in a small country town in Western Australia (lot of good Aussie authors in WA!), it centres round the complex relationship between an adolescant boy and his fermenting hormones (!!), his indigenous classmate, a murder mystery (sub-plot) and a dysfunctional family in a dysfunctional town.

It is seriously good.

Peter Temple’s new novel, Truth, is another fine read….and who can go past author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? All fabulous reads……and don’t forget Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn or Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall……..

So many books….so little time…..

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Word magic

If you look at the previous post, you’ll find a Word Mosaic from Image Chef. Great fun….just didn’t realise it would post straight to my blog without having a chance to edit it! Live and learn.

I am a regular visitor to Jane’s E-learning Pick of the Day which is a great blog. I’d recommend it if you want to know what is happening with Web 2 tools in education. It keeps me in the loop about the latest developments with technology and I must say, I have fooled a few of my colleagues. They think I know more about technology than I actually do!!

The Word Mosaic is one of her lighter posts! Her blog is easy to read and very accessible. I find many other blogs quite dense and too “techie” for me.

So thanks Jane!

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Sunset at the ‘Ville

Sunset over Marric kville, Sydney…..5 minutes ago.

the ville 1

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29921948_79b7448227_mSome of my favourite links from the recent Ulearn conference in Christchurch NZ.

  • EDtalks – interviews from Ulearn presenters

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IMG_5333Some gems from Helen Timperley from the Ulearn conference in Christchurch, New Zealand (max. 6 degrees today – freezing!!).

Her focus was on …….(and I have just discovered the coloured font button!!)

Promoting Teacher Professional Learning and Development.

Why do we need Teacher Professional Learning and Development?

because knowledge is changing

because student composition is changing – background knowledge, language and culture

because jobs are changing

because teachers learning from experience is NOT enough

we need to connect to students in different ways……


IMG_0020(Sydney CEO, Inner West ESL teachers at our professional learning day with Paul Dufficy and Beverley Derewianka)

Student learning is strongly influenced by WHAT/HOW teachers teach – teachers DO make a difference

Teaching is COMPLEX  and effective professional learning CANNOT  be an add on

Effective professional learning  is RESPONSIVE to ways teachers learn – just like learning should be for students

is shaped by CONTEXT in which teachers practice

So what doesn’t work?

teachers left to construct their own learning experiences – they need more than just time to talk about their practice

experts developing recipes for teaching

what does work?

teacher as researcher using the inquiry learning model

formative assessment so teachers know WHY and WHAT  they are learning

have ways of monitoring their own success

have some control over their learning

And this old chestnut that was always the mantra of one of my previous Principal’s – and is oh-so-true! ………

to improve student learning teachers MUST ENGAGE in professional development and learning


how successful this is, can be determined by the IMPACT on student learning  (and no, NAPLAN is not necessarily a measure of this!!)

What are the conditions that PROMOTE teacher learning?

multiple opportunities to learn/apply new understandings and skills in a Trusting and CHALLENGING environment

professional learning approaches that are RESPONSIVE to adult learning processes – make it explicit and engaging

So how to change teacher beliefs and assumptions?

challenge current assumptions

develop new skills and knowledge

make small changes in teaching practice

observe impact on student learning


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