NSW Premier Mike Baird today announced a state-wide audit of prayer groups in public schools, in response to concerns about a small number of students being potentially exposed to violent extremist ideologies.
“Our schools should be, and are, havens of tolerance, places where students can explore the reaches of imagination and knowledge,” Mr Baird said.
“We will never allow them to become the setting for extremist ideologies.”
Mr Baird also announced that a joint memorandum from the NSW Department of Education and NSW Police Force will be issued today to all public school principals, to reinforce their obligation to report information in accordance with the Department’s Incident Reporting Policy.
Last month the Premier announced the NSW Government will spend $4 million to build the strength of our multicultural society and protect young people from extremist influences.
The Government has already invited submissions on this Countering Violent Extremism program and is consulting community leaders across the state.
“Our schools, our police and other authorities are operating in a new and different world, as far as risks to our young people are concerned,” Mr Baird said.
“These new risks mean that, collectively, we are going to have to be vigilant, and take action as necessary.”
NSW Police Force will also provide a counter-terrorism briefing to Departmental officers, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council and the NSW Primary Principals’ Association executive.
Police and the Department of Education have responded to a very small number of incidents in the past year, including at Epping Boys High.
With each of these current investigations, NSW Police Force can assure the community there is no current threat to the safety of students.