The Australian’s Rebecca Urban today reported that Healesville Primary School posted advice on its Facebook page at 8.23am on Saturday (10 November) that a school camp due to begin today had been called off, sparking a mixed reaction from parents. While several claimed to be relieved, many described it as an overreaction.
“On advice from the Department of Education, in light of violent events that occurred in Bourke Street yesterday, we have had to cancel the Grade 5/6 City Camp that was due to begin on Monday,” the notice said.
“This is not a decision taken lightly but the safety of our students is the main priority. School will run as normal next week & a discussion will be had then about the next step. Please share this news with other parents & carers.”
The message came just hours after Premier Daniel Andrews gave a press conference assuring Victorians that additional security measures had been taken to ensure that the city was safe.
Department of Education deputy secretary Bruce Armstrong confirmed that the department had assisted the school principal undertake a risk assessment of the upcoming excursion but denied that the department had recommended the cancellation.
He said the principal, Cameron Heath, was in a “difficult situation” having woken up to find “the parent community very anxious, posting on social media that they weren’t going to send their children.”
“The advice from the department was [to] look at the pros and cons in relation to the viability of that excursion. We did not advise that principal to not hold that excursion,” Mr Armstrong told 3AW‘s Neil Mitchell this morning.
He said the principal had only short period of time in which to make a decision: “If he was making a decision today …. the principal would, I think, make a different decision”.
Victoria Police Chief Commission Graham Ashton said that he was surprised by the move.
“That’s exactly what terrorists want in those situations,” Mr Ashton said.
“We’ve been encouraging people to get on with their lives.
“It’s exactly what we want to avoid.”
The annual four-day Melbourne Discovery Camp cost parents $430 per student. Mr Atkinson said that families would be reimbursed if the camp could not be rescheduled.
Parents turned to social media over the weekend to voice their concerns and their disappointment on behalf of their children, who had been looking forward to the camp for months.
“The city camp is not in Bourke Street,” commented one parent in response. “Pretty sure there will be lots of people, including kids, in there today… There is no credible danger or threat to your kids.”
Another parent pointed out that “this is the kind of incident that can happen at anytime, anywhere”.
-With The Australian and 3AW