Skip to Content

Traeger Park School v. Minister of Education Northern Territory of Australia

Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission - Aboriginal Students Support & Parents Awareness Committee , HREOCA 4, 26 February 1992.
 The closure of a school attended by aboriginal children in Australia (138 out of 142 learners were indigenous) was justified by budgetary savings necessitated by fiscal stringency and by declining enrolments in that school and low attendance. The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found that the one important reason for closing the school was its image of ‘an aboriginal enclave.’ The closure of that school would trigger dispersal of the indigenous learners in the neighbouring schools. The Commission asked how they would have been absorbed and whether these ‘Traeger Park children’ would be additionally disadvantaged:

Commission found that the decision was one based on race. However, he also determined that the Minister's subjective purpose was for the maintenance of educational opportunities and services for those children.

The Commissioner determined that the Minister's decision was based on the view that mainstreaming the students would be in their longer term interests and not made with the 'purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing recognition, enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of any human right' such as 'the right to education and training'.

The students' rights to education were, in the Commissioner's interpretation of the Act, sufficiently protected so long as they had access to some form of education. Their rights did not seem to extend to the form that that education took.

Adapted from Traeger Park School – A Case for Human Rights? Christine Walton
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AboriginalLB/1992/38.html