SPEAKING OUT: People protesting against mandatory offshore detention during the Evacuate Manus and Nauru Protest in Sydney earlier this year. Next month about 500 teachers plan to walk off the job to join a national protest to get the remaining children off Nauru.
SPEAKING OUT: People protesting against mandatory offshore detention during the Evacuate Manus and Nauru Protest in Sydney earlier this year. Next month about 500 teachers plan to walk off the job to join a national protest to get the remaining children off Nauru. AAP/JEREMY NG

Time to teach, not protest

ABOUT 500 teachers are going to walk off the job next month.

They're not doing it for pay, or conditions, or class sizes, or the NAPLAN test.

They are doing it to join a national protest to get the remaining kids off Nauru.

Now, there are some uncomfortable truths people don't want to say about why those kids are on that island.

It's not the government's fault, it's their parents'.

They are the ones who decided to pay a people smuggler to take them from Indonesia, far from the war-torn countries they fled or it was their parents who decided to bring a child into the limbo citizen status of Nauru.

I don't say this to be mean, it's just the truth.

Yes, those children are the innocent victims of this situation, but I do think we need to be honest when attributing blame.

Their parents could have left to go back to their home country or applied to go to the US; also there is a chance they could be resettled in New Zealand.

But under the system set up since 2013, they can't come here.

Put simply, if they do, then the message sent back up the chain is no matter the legal status of the parent, if you bring a child then you will be fast-tracked to Australia.

The last thing we want for any child is to be used as a pawn like that.

There is a need to urgently upgrade the medical and mental health facilities on Nauru where they can get the care they need in Australia.

But as hard-hearted as it is, a strong line is the only thing that works.

This isn't nasty right-wing ideology, it's been proven by history.

At the end of the Howard government the boats had largely stopped so the media's attention was drawn to the people left in limbo by their actions.

It's not hard to see the public mood shift when the story changes from one of endless illegal boats, to images and stories farmed out to the media by activists who simply don't believe our borders should be sealed.

They think if you are desperate enough to put the effort in to get here, no matter how, Australia is a big and rich enough country to take them in. But Twitter doesn't care, this is the cause of the hour and amazingly teachers are going to walk off the job to make this point.

I have no doubt their views are heartfelt, but we can't let people walk away from their responsibility to educate the next generation.

If there is to be a mass protest, do it on the weekend where people can gather in their own time to make a political point, and most likely, more people will join the protest.

But not on our time.

In the end we also need to acknowledge this protest isn't just about getting the kids off Nauru.

The children will be used to get the rest of their family off the island and come here.

We have been here before - protests led to opening the door so more people came.

The result of that after 2007 was more than 1000 died.

No matter your views on offshore detention, that's a risk we can't take.

How is that the humane cause worth striking for?

Let's get the kids to the United States or New Zealand, not Australia.

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