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The Southern Cross : February 2012
$2 inc. GST February 2012 TheSouthern Cross Part of your Catholic family since 1867 www.thesoutherncross.org.au Digital version online at www.thesoutherncross.org.au OPEN DAY OLSH 1 - 3pm Sunday 4 March 2012 OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART COLLEGE 496 Regency Rd, Enfield SA Phone 8269 8800 www.olsh.sa.edu.au Connect to learn, learn to connect An offer made several months ago to provide Catholic education to more than a dozen teenage refugees who are receiving no formal schooling while detained in Port Augusta has yet to be taken up by the Federal Government. The secondary school-age minors have not been permitted to attend school," says Port Pirie Bishop Greg O'Kelly SJ in an Australia Day statement issued by the Catholic Bishops Commission for Justice, Ecology and Development. "In Port Augusta we have 30 young people, nearly all minors and some in primary school, who have been in detention now for 12 months, at Christmas Island and there." "They are taught English for one hour a day (at the Port Augusta residential immigration facility). Apart from that one hour a day there is only an occasional activity to occupy them," he says. "Imagine how harmful the tedium is to growing young spirits." Bishop O'Kelly first raised concerns as early as September last year with Immigration Minister Chris Bowen over the youths' minimal education inside the Port Augusta residential immigration facility and offered to school them at Caritas College. "Even though the minors are Catholic, they are not permitted to attend the nearby Catholic school," he says. Caritas College principal Sister Catherine Mead rsj said the secondary school-aged asylum seekers from the immigration facility were "more than welcome" and the school had done "all it could" to have them at the college. "Caritas College offered to have the young people attend classes and the school community would have been enriched by the process of these young people in our community," Sr Catherine told The Southern Cross. An Immigration Department spokesman said the facility's primary school-aged children were schooled off-site at the Port Augusta public primary school while the secondary school-aged youth were given "an appropriate level of education" from the State Government's Department of Education and Children's Services at the facility. He said the department had not considered Bishop O'Kelly's offer as "the Catholic Church had not provided an indication of the cost". Continued on page 3. Detainee schooling row ALL SMILES: The first day of the 2012 school year couldn't come quick enough for young Zac Cappello who started at St Thomas School, Goodwood, on January 30. Aida Pedisic has to wait until third term to join him but was eager to keep him company on his big day. Full story in the BACK TO SCHOOL feature on pages 17 to 21. Photo: Nat Rogers Ready to roll By Rebecca DiGirolamo