Campaigning against NSW truancy law

Issue 

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Emma To and Keara Courtney

SYDNEY — On February 13, nearly 200 people gathered at Town Hall to protest the anti-truancy policy of the NSW Labor government.

Tim Anderson, secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, described the poor state of government services such as education, health and welfare, and criticised the government for stepping up attacks on youth.

A speaker from the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group agreed with these comments, pointing out that problems like unemployment and poverty need to be solved, instead of attacking young people.

The crowd marched to Parliament House, where they heard from Marina Carman, the Democratic Socialists' candidate for the NSW seat of Port Jackson. Carman declared that Labor and the Coalition were as bad as each other in implementing laws that target indigenous people, people of colour and youth for harassment by the state.

The truancy policy will, from second term, require all students to carry a pass signed by their principal when not at school. This shows the lengths the government will go to to harass young people. Representatives of Copwatch and Justice Action spoke about the repressive powers that the police and government already have, and the likely consequences of the truancy measure.

High school Resistance member Ryan Liddell said, "This is not about truancy. It's about the intimidation of young people. Young people need to take action against it because it is an attempt to crack down on their rights.

"An inspiring example of high school students organising against repression was last year's anti-racism school walkouts, in which Resistance mobilised 14,000 high school students on July 24."

Resistance organised another action against the truancy law on February 19. More than 50 high school students walked out of class to demonstrate against the truancy policy and demand the right to organise on high schools.

High school activist Danny Fairfax explained: "Resistance will continue to oppose attacks on young people, and we put the government on notice that there will be a response from high school students if it tries to introduce this law in second term".