Program encourages good behaviour

Mullumbimby High School principal Ian Graham (left) with mentoring program facilitator Steve Strong.
Mullumbimby High School principal Ian Graham (left) with mentoring program facilitator Steve Strong. David Nielsen

MULLUMBIMBY High School principal Ian Graham said the school’s new mentorship program to support young boys was dedicated to the memory of Jai Morcom.

Jai died last August after a brawl in the school grounds.

“This is a positive initiative in the school to foster appropriate and responsible behaviour in boys,” Mr Graham said.

“We made a conscious attempt to involve Jai’s friends. The program has been supported financially by the Department of Education, North Coast region.

“It is to be piloted at Mullumbimby High School, with the possibility of expansion to other local public schools if it proves to be successful and funding is available.

“The Indigenous Mentor Program supports key directions in Aboriginal education policy by raising awareness and understanding of Aboriginal culture for all students, and building stronger partnerships with the local Aboriginal community.”

While the program has been welcomed by many, some have questioned the time taken to instigate such aninitiative.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education defended the time frame and said due to the nature of the police investigation they weren’t able to discuss things publicly.

“It is very hard for us to enter into a public discourse about violence in schools without people immediately drawing associations,” the spokeman said. “The public needs to understand that it’s not very easy for us to talk about violence in schools without relating it to the incident.

“Support for the kids was there from day one.

“We also had the review of school operations last year – though I wouldn’t say that was a direct result of the incident.

“There has been a great deal of discourse within the school and it simply wasn’t appropriate for that conversation to be public.

“We are bound by the law when a case is still being investigated.”

Criticism that the Queensland Government and police had handled the tragedy of Elliott Fletcher better than NSW was dismissed as unfair.

“It would not surprise me if it came down to the relative simplicity of the Queensland situation. That case was much clearer and moved much faster,” he said.

“We made a conscious attempt to involve Jai’s friends”

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