School is a beacon of hope

Diane Hague

Dorothy Hoddinott (second from right, front row) at the luncheon with Holroyd HS students and staff.

Young asylum seekers’ compelling case for rights to education equity was the main message in Holroyd High School principal Dorothy Hoddinott’s inspiring speech to the Jessie Street National Women’s Library annual luncheon on September 15.

She told the 300 guests that when she heard the then United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson speak of human rights in education 15 years ago the message resonated with her and since then she had fought tirelessly for human rights in Australia’s education process.

Ms Hoddinott said Holroyd High had become a beacon of hope for many refugees, asylum seeker and disadvantaged children.

“At Holroyd, respect and responsibility inform everything: principles through which we build the trust essential to a civil society, hope for the future and helping students reach their educational potential notwithstanding seemingly intractable government policy for some students,” she said.

Students on temporary protection and bridging visas used to have to leave school at 18 so in 2002, Dorothy established a school trust fund, Friends of Zainab, and in 2003 a donor trust fund with the National Foundation for Australian Women. These funds support refugee students to finish school and go to university. Dorothy’s speech received a standing ovation.

Representatives from seven public secondary schools attended the luncheon. Federation and the Retired Teachers Association also booked tables. Thanks to the union for donating wine produced by Mount View High School to the Library’s luncheon raffle.

Diane Hague is a Life Member of the Federation and a Board member of the Jessie Street National Women’s Library.