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2GB Drive with Chris O’Keefe, 23 August 2023

Chris O’Keefe: Senator Sarah Henderson, she is the shadow federal Education Minister and I’m pleased to say she’s on the line. Senator Henderson, thanks for your time.

Senator Henderson: Chris, it’s really wonderful to join you.

Chris O’Keefe: This really bothers me.

Senator Henderson: Oh, this is disgraceful. I cannot believe it. And seeing what those children were required to write by way of that apology is appalling, and the fact that this is happening in Jason Clare’s backyard in Sydney is just disgraceful. I mean, what are the consequences? This is not age appropriate. In fact, this is not appropriate at all.

Children at the right level need to be taught Indigenous history, including some of the terrible things that happened, and you’ve made that point very clearly. But they also need a proper perspective. But to impose this on four-year-olds is just disgraceful. I’m a mum as well, and I can tell you I would be absolutely furious if that happened to my four-year-old, and good on those wonderful grandparents for calling this out. Jason Clare, the Education Minister, is running around in circles today with the worst NAPLAN results we have seen. One in three students across this country is failing. It is time he stood up and was counted, and we need to know that this sort of stuff is removed from pre-schools. It is just not good enough.

Chris O’Keefe: Do you think we’re wasting too much time on it? And my second question, I suppose, is while it might not be in curriculum’s or early learning framework, it’s clear that some of the educators and teachers are taking it on themselves to teach it, right?

Senator Henderson: Oh, look, there’s no doubt about that, and I have been very strong on this in my role as the Shadow Education Minister. From day one, I’ve made the point that classrooms are for education, not indoctrination. I raised serious concerns about this, about the way the Voice is being taught in some schools, about the one-sided view of history. It is just not good enough. In order to give children the best education, you need to give them both sides of any argument to stimulate critical thinking, and I’m really appalled by these examples. You’re doing a great job, quite frankly, in raising these really alarming examples of what’s happening in our schools. And frankly, any teacher who is basically working as an activist does not deserve to be in an Australian classroom.

Chris O’Keefe: Does there need to be some sort of oversight here? Clearly, outside of some people blowing the whistle, parents or grandparents blowing the whistle, but nobody’s checking what’s actually being taught in the preschools. Nobody.

Senator Henderson: Well, that’s a really good point, and also very concerning, because at the end of the day, the buck stops with both the Federal Education Minister, Jason Clare and also the State Education Minister, Prue Car. And where are they? I mean they’ve put their heads in the sand. At the very least they should be accountable and demonstrate to the people of New South Wales that this sort of teaching in our classrooms and in our schools is not acceptable. So where is the action from both the Federal Minister and the State Minister? Just not good enough, Chris.

Chris O’Keefe: I just think that something needs to give here because this can’t continue the way it is. Senator, I appreciate you jumping on.

Senator Henderson: Thank you so much. Great to talk to you.

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