Indigenous leader Noel Pearson has called on the leaders and families of a remote Cape York community to “step up” to help address problems that forced the closure of its school.
Twenty-five teachers and staff from the Cake York Aboriginal Australian Academy in Aurukun have been relocated to Cairns after the school’s principal was carjacked by a group of teenagers, including one wielding an axe.
Mr Pearson, the school’s founder, said “intermediate term solutions” were needed to protect school staff in the far north Queensland community.
“I urge the leaders and families of Aurukun to step up and help tackle the problems that are driving these incidents,” he said.
Mr Pearson said he endorsed the Education Department’s decision to close the school for a week.
“The security of staff is of paramount importance and these incidents are very concerning, and the situation must be fully assessed in terms of the safety and wellbeing of these hardworking people,” he said.
Three teenage boys have been charged after they tried to break into the home of two teachers on Sunday morning.
Education Queensland Regional director Deborah Dunstone said the school’s principal went to help them but was confronted by the group, one of whom had an axe.
“The principal, above and beyond the call of duty, was responding to assist them in the early hours of the morning, some youths obviously stopped him,” she said.
“There was certainly a scuffle and he has some minor bruising.”
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said he was investigating claims officers took too long to respond to the incident.
The Aurukun school has been closed for five school days.
Teachers have reportedly agreed to return to work if their safety concerns are addressed.
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt, whose electorate of Mulgrave sits in the state’s far north, said the government would make it a priority to work through the long-term issues affecting the community.
“It’s not uncommon to have seen this sort of unrest,” Mr Pitt said on Wednesday.
“It’s really important that we have a very engaged conversation with local leadership.
“That includes not just elected people on council, but of course also local elders, local women’s groups and local clan leaders to talk about what the longer term solution here is.”
He said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would address the issue in parliament later on Wednesday.
Aurukun mayor Dereck Walpo said he could not comment on the matter.