The Victorian branch of the National Tertiary Education Union released this statement on June 1. It condemned La Trobe University's decision to suspend Roz Ward for a post on her personal Facebook page that said the Australian flag is racist.
Ward has been a key activist in the Safe Schools anti-bullying campaign for school students. Murdoch's The Australian has run a witch hunt against her with the aim of destroying Safe Schools, which teaches respect and understanding for LGBTIQ students.
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The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) today condemned La Trobe University for suspending union member Roz Ward. La Trobe has charged her with serious misconduct over media commentary on her private Facebook post.
Roz Ward, Coordinator of Safe Schools Coalition at La Trobe University, has been in the public spotlight defending the Safe Schools program, with support from the university and the Victorian Government.
“The Murdoch press's attack on Roz Ward, purportedly about a social media post about the Australian flag, is in reality part of a concerted political and ideological campaign by Australia's right wing ideologues against views that do not accord with their own,” said NTEU Victorian Secretary, Dr Colin Long.
“That La Trobe University has apparently allowed itself to be cowed into participating in this anti-intellectual, anti-democratic attack reflects the dismal state of intellectual capacity at the senior management level in some Australian universities.
“We are very concerned that La Trobe University management seem to think that political views should be a criterion for employment, as was the case in the Soviet Union.
“The hysterical response to Ms Ward's private Facebook posting about the Australian flag is typical of the right's absolute refusal to consider the ways in which racism is expressed, often unconsciously, in symbols, institutions and attitudes. Whether one agrees or not with Ms Ward's contention that the flag betrays a racist origin, it is entirely reasonable to make such an argument, and many have done so without fear of having their livelihoods stolen from them.
“It is this kind of moral and intellectual cowardice and bullying that underlies the bullying and victimisation of young people of diverse genders and sexualities, against which Roz Ward has dedicated her professional life,” concluded Dr Long.
The NTEU considers that this is discrimination on the basis of political opinion, a very serious attack on freedom of speech and democratic rights, and will be considering all legal avenues of redress.