Principal says asylum detention protest 'up to students'

THE principal of a Catholic Melbourne high school has come under fire for encouraging students to protest against the Abbott government's asylum seeker detention policies after a protest on Friday.

Principal Tony Paatsch told Melbourne radio station 3AW the small protest at St Bernard's College involved about 50 students, but was part of simultaneous actions at about 30 other Catholic schools across the country.

Students at school held signs marked "#detention for detention" while others bound their hands together to show support for asylum seekers held in offshore detention centres under Australian Government policies.

Mr Paatsch said that recognition of the basic dignity of all people was a basic part of Catholic teaching, and it was up to students to decide if they participated.

While several callers to the talkback radio station asked whether it was appropriate for school principals to encourage students to be involved in political protests, Mr Paatsch said he believed the students were confident enough to decide on their involvement in the protest.