Sydney Catholic school in SIEV X controversy

Government ministers are outraged over a case study, currently under consideration by St Aloysius College, Sydney, designed for high school history classes that asks whether the 353 drowned on the SIEV X asylum seeker boat were the result of Government policies.

The principal of St Aloysius College, Fr Chris Middleton, told The Australian yesterday that the school was considering using the program to be launched in Federal Parliament today by child psychologist Steve Biddulph.

The case study, aimed at Year 11 students, prompted allegations that students were being steered towards a "politically correct" conclusion, the paper says.

Modern History students would study a number of disputed claims, including whether or not the Australian navy sabotaged the boat before it left Indonesia, if the SIEV X Secondary School's Case Study Committee does sell the case study to schools.

Students at schools that decide to use the case study will view primary source documents and be asked: "Was the sinking of the SIEV X and subsequent loss of life preventable?"

Students would also be asked to describe how statements by a former immigration officer and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer about whether the government officials sabotaged boats "contradict each other".

According to The Australian, the case study relies heavily on the documentary film Punished not Protected and two books - A Certain Maritime Incident and Dark Victory - which are highly critical of the Government, prompting criticism that the proposal is biased.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said students should be "presented with the facts as we know them rather than any biased presentation".

However, a spokesman for the SIEV X Case Study group which prepared the case study, Don Maclurcan, said the case had polarised people and so would sharpen students' analytical skills.

He said the organising committee had "made every effort to set aside our own conclusions in order to assemble a balanced set of reading materials that present the many viewpoints offered".

He said the material was developed "in consultation with the NSW Board of Studies" but the board denied this yesterday, the Australian says.

Correction: Apologies to St Aloysius College, Adelaide, for our earlier error over the school involved

Kit asks students to decide on Siev X (The Australian, 19/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Siev X website
Siev X Memorial website
St Aloysius' College, North Sydney
St Aloysius College, North Sydney (Wikipedia)

Canberra asylum seeker memorial in jeopardy (CathNews, 11/10/06)
Edmund Rice Centre confirms 39 more deportations to danger (CathNews, 4/10/06)
Killed asylum seeker details sent to DIMA (CathNews, 14/8/06)
Off-shore processing failed dead asylum seekers: Edmund Rice (CathNews, 10/8/06)
Nine rejected asylum seekers killed: Edmund Rice Centre (CathNews, 8/8/06)
Detention stuff-ups no surprise to Edmund Rice researchers (CathNews, 3/5/05)
Edmund Rice Centre claims at least 35 refugees sent back to danger (CathNews, 29/9/04)
Bishops welcome release of detention centre children (CathNews, 26/8/03)

19 Oct 2006