Australia

Sydney students left 'crying and embarrassed' as NAIDOC dance performance cut short

NAIDOC performance at Chifley College Senior Campus. Source: Facebook

Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for Indigenous respect in schools after a group of Sydney students claim they were called names during a NAIDOC dance performance.

NSW education officials are investigating claims Indigenous students were "laughed off stage" and called racist remarks during a NAIDOC dance performance.

Eight Year 12 students were performing at Chifley College Senior Campus in Mt Druitt last week when the showcase was suddenly cut short.

Students took to social media to vent their disappointment afterwards, with one dancer saying they "all walked off that stage crying and embarrassed".

Another girl involved claimed they were called names by members in the crowd "because they were picking leaves off a tree for a traditional dance."

NAIDOC performance at Chifley College Senior Campus.
NAIDOC performance at Chifley College Senior Campus.
Facebook

The NSW Department of Education said its staff did "not witness the allegations" and the performance was interrupted due to an unintentional "technical glitch".

"However, the school and the department do not tolerate racism. Chifley College Senior Campus prides itself on being a diverse and harmonious school," a spokesperson said.

"If any wrong-doing is found, the department will take appropriate action."

A Change.org petition calling for greater respect towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in schools was created after the alleged incident and has since gathered almost 30,000 signatures.

"These kids and generations to come deserve to be respected and given equal educational support," organiser Dolie Ufi wrote. 

NAIDOC Week is marked 7-14 July and celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For more stories on NAIDOC celebrations around the country go to sbs.com.au/nitv/naidoc

CORRECTION: Photo captions in this story were updated on 10 July. They previously incorrectly referred to the performers as being from 'Students at Chifley College in Mount Druitt'.

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