Aussie ethics teacher stood down for stolen generations comments

A volunteer ethics teacher in Australia has been stood down for telling students the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations were taken from their families because of poor parenting.

The volunteer allegedly told the primary school age children that what they had been taught about why the children were removed was false.

The real reason the children were removed from their families was because of lazy parenting, he told them.

Four of the six pupils the volunteer was teaching complained about his views.

“The complaint involved stereotyping and the ethics teacher is alleged to have voiced racist opinions,” said a spokeswoman for the organisation that runs Special Ethics Education, Primary Ethics.

“We commend these students for speaking up and the principal for proactively addressing the matter,” the spokeswoman said.

After getting her mother’s permission, an 11-year old complainant spoke to reporters about the incident.

“[The teacher said] we should only listen to him because he was 75 and had lived in Townsville for 10 years.”

The 11-year old then said the teacher became increasingly agitated when the students argued back.

Her mother said the incident left her concerned about the regulation and vetting of volunteers who were allowed into the public school system to teach both Special Ethics Education and Special Religious Education.

“I’d always seen ethics as quite a good alternative to scripture,” she said.

“But it’s almost part of the problem because it’s the same issue – these people are unregulated. Imagine if a teacher had responded like that? I would expect them to have pretty serious disciplinary action.”

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said the volunteer’s comments “were unacceptable”.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Special Ethics Education is due to be trialled in New South Wales’ high schools next year.

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