Written by Jacob Miley and edited for online by Toby Crockford
The school in the remote community of Aurukun will close for at least a week, with teachers being evacuated to Cairns amid safety concerns.
The decision was made following an attempted break and enter as well as a car-jacking of the school principal, who was allegedly threatened with an axe.
The school holds a partnership with prominent Indigenous leader Noel Pearson’s Cape York Academy.
Mr Pearson said the security of staff was of paramount importance and these types of incidents were very concerning.
He also said the situation needed to be fully assessed in terms of the safety and well-being of the staff.
Queensland Teachers Union Peninsula and Northwest Region spokesperson, Maureen Duffy, said members of the school had held a meeting to discuss a solution.
“They requested that they be able to leave Aurukun for a week to talk about different issues in Cairns, which is where the regional education department is based,” said Ms Duffy.
“It will also give them some respite because there has been a lot of community unrest as of late.”
Ms Duffy added these events had the capacity to deter teachers from wanting to come to these remote areas, but a ‘precinct’ was being proposed in the next 12 months, to better monitor security.
Despite the unrest, she said the decision to leave was a difficult one for staff.
“I was talking to one of the teachers in Aurukun this morning and she said it was actually a very difficult decision for them to make to vote to leave for the week because they feel so passionately about the children they teach and about Aurukun itself,” Ms Duffy said.
Aurukun Council CEO Bernie McCarthy, said tighter security was being implemented in the community to eliminate unrest.
“Today there is the start of the CCTV contract insulation, which is an extensive system,” said Mr
“We believe it will help with the monitoring of any unsociable activities or crime.”
But he said he understood this wouldn’t be the end of the matter.
“We are also putting into place other diversionary activities such as a library, Indigenous knowledge centre, community radio and we are very strongly supporting PCYC.”
Ms Duffy said it was a small number who are causing the unrest in the community.
“Everyone who I speak to from Aurukun, comments that the vast majority of the community supports the teachers and the children’s education.
“Unfortunately it is a very small minority that are making this problematic.”
The executive principal and nine of the teachers and education workers arrived in Cairns last night, with the principal and the remaining 15 expected to arrive later this afternoon.
The school is expected to resume next Thursday.