Leeton students have been spurred into action as a result of their dissatisfaction with the government’s policies on offshore detention centres.
More than 30 students from Saint Francis de Sales Regional College headed to Canberra on Tuesday for the Rural Australians for Refugees protest and rally against the detention of children on Nauru.
Chelsea Caffery, 17 said the issue struck home for her because some of the children are her own age.
“When doing my own research I realised a law has been passed that there should no children in detention centres, yet they are are still there and their mental and physical health is being ignored,” she said.
“A lot of people think politics should not be part of our schooling, but we are the future of our country and if we are not informed then how can we have a say.”
Chelsea said after being able to talk to Farrer MP Sussan Ley she had a better understanding of the government’s policies.
“We didn't agree, but we were able to expand our knowledge of the policies and it strengthened our disgust and our passion,” she said.
“Now, I think we need to be having more of these conversations in Leeton because it is such an inclusive community.
“I think sometimes people are scared because they don’t understand the situation so we can change that with conversation.”
Patrick Draper, 17, said joining the rally with hundreds of people felt empowering.
“These kids are the same age as us and they have no hope and something needs to be done,” he said.
“The Rural Australians for Refugees also valued that we were there representing students.
Patrick said he and a couple of the students will be talking to the whole school and emailing politicians including Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack about the issue.
“We are responsible for this,” he said.
“We put them there after they were seeking asylum and we have to deal with this issue and it’s our responsibility.”
School counsellor Peter McPhee said he has been disgusted by the government ignoring the children on Nauru.
“This is a disgrace and this is a stain on the Australian soil,” he said.
“As a Christian school, we have a cross out the front and that cross demands us to act.”
Mr McPhee said he helped organise the trip to show his students the need to be educated.
“They'll be voting now or at our next Federal election and we want them to be informed and now they have the knowledge,” he said.