Issues concerning the education of young people continue to be an issue that children and young people consistently turn to the NCYLC for advice and advocacy. Throughout the 2002 and 2003 financial year, the NCYLC provided advocacy assistance for children and young people who were challenging their suspensions or expulsions form both Government and Non-Government schools. NCYLC has published a number of discussion papers concerning procedural fairness in the application of suspension and expulsion policies. Unfortunately, the catch cry "they wouldn't listen to me" is still a constant catch cry from the young people that we speak to and email advice.
Discrimination on the basis of a disability continued to be a source of great concern for children and parents. This discrimination takes its most tragic form within the school system. NCYLC continues to provide advocacy services for children that are treated differently at school because of their disability.
In June 2003, we commenced litigation in the Supreme Court of NSW on behalf of four young people who were suspended from school for allegedly being in possession of an illegal substance. Proceedings were commenced by way of injunction. O'Keefe J, whilst observing that correct procedures were not followed by the principal in his suspension of the students and noting that threatening children with being taken to the police station should not be encouraged, declined to grant an injunction to stay the effect of the suspension. We are currently in negotiations with the NSW Department of Education and Training.
Child care centres
The National Children and Youth Law Centre have been approached on a number of occasions throughout the financial year concerning the standards and procedures/law applicable to Child care centres. Press reports in NSW in 2003 supported the view that lack of enforcement and monitoring was leading to poor management and serious safety breaches. NCYLC have been providing assistance top 9 parents of young children attending a University based Long Day Care Centre in NSW where serious concerns were raised about management of the centre and treatment of the children.
The NCYLC provided legal observation at the anti-war demonstrations in Sydney Town Hall in March 2003. The NCYLC was also approached by a number of young women at another march after the victims alleged that police had removed their hijabs and made racially abusive comments towards them in an attempt to incite violence.