By NSW Premier Mike Baird @MikeBairdMP
We cannot allow our schools to become the setting for extremist ideologies and serious allegations involving Epping Boys High in recent weeks have prompted Government action.
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 and these new risks mean that we have to be vigilant and take action as necessary.
This year’s State Budget set aside $4 million to develop an early intervention program targeted at young Australians at risk of becoming disengaged from society and lured in by the recruitment tactics of extremists. I have always said that any program developed by the Government must have the support of the community and groups at the coal face of this problem and I can report we have started working with community leaders on this issue.
However, the recent events at Epping Boys High required immediate action so I made the decision to conduct a state-wide audit of all prayer groups taking place in public schools. The NSW Police Force will also be providing a counter-terrorism briefing to the Education Department, NSW Secondary Principals’ Council and the NSW Primary Principals’ Association. Public school principals have also been reminded of their obligation to report any information about suspicious or concerning activities to the police.
Police and the Department of Education have responded to a very small number of incidents in the past year, but I would like to assure the community there is no current threat to the safety of our students.
In other news, NSW continues to position itself as a world leader in cannabis research and I have announced we will lead Australia’s first medical cannabis trial for adults who are terminally ill. The first part of the trial will be conducted at the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital with about 30 patients to begin treatment in early 2016, and initial results expected by the end of 2016.
We don’t want patients and carers to play pharmacist, that’s why it’s so important that we explore the safest and most effective ways we can deliver compassionate care and improve the quality of life for those suffering from a terminal illness.
Finally, the prestigious Boao Forum for Asia was held in Sydney this week bringing governments and private enterprise together to look at ways to encourage more trade across the Asia Pacific region.
I had the pleasure of addressing about 300 delegates attending the conference where I stressed that the NSW Government was open and ready to do business with Asia.
Almost one in every five Australian jobs are linked to international trade and this state’s trade with Asia has more than doubled over the past decade so it’s imperative this Government does everything it can to use our long-standing diplomatic and cultural links with Asia to our advantage.