La Trobe University suspends Roz Ward

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La Trobe University has announced it has suspended Roz Ward, the co-founder of the Safe Schools Coalition over a private comment she made on Facebook about the Australian flag.

New Matilda have reported that Ward was stood down with pay from her position at La Trobe University following what they described as a “News Corp engineered media storm’.

Fiona Reed, the Executive Director of Human Resources at La Trobe, has allegedly accused Ms Ward of breaching her employment conditions by embarrassing the university, causing the Victorian Government – a major funding source for LaTrobe – to divert resources to defending Safe Schools, and of putting her colleagues at risk by creating an ‘unsafe’ environment.

Over the few months The Australian newspaper has published a series of reports highlighting Ms Ward’s personal political beliefs, she identifies as a Marxist.

Last week it was reported that Ms Ward made a comment on her personal Facebook account criticising the Australian flag.

Under a photograph of the gay and lesbian flag, flying above Victorian parliament in conjunction with Premier Daniel Andrews apology to previous generations of LGBTIQ people, Ms Ward joked with a friend on Facebook: “Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”

The private post was leaked to The Australian and Ms Ward was forced to resign from her role as an education adviser to the Victorian government.

Subsequently the Australian Christian Lobby called for Ward to resign from all positions she held and the Safe Schools Coalition program that she helped create to be scrapped.

Jeff Kennett, chairman of Beyondblue also publicly criticised Ward. The former Victorian premier vowed that he would make sure his organisation stopped funding any projects she had an involvement in.

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Ward’s suspension criticised

The move to suspend Ward from her job has been condemned by news website Crikey who described the embattled academic as being a “victim of the thought police”. In their editorial the news website labeled the decision by LaTrobe University as “gutless and absurd”.

The decision to suspend Ward has also been condemned by the National Union of Students (NUS).

“Students believe it is completely unfair for someone to lose their job over personal political views posted on a private Facebook feed that aren’t discriminatory or bigoted.” NUS President Sinead Colee said.

The National Union of Students called on LaTrobe University to reconsider Roz’s suspension.

“LaTrobe University has long seen itself as the home of radical and new ideas. If Roz loses her job over this, we will see that image shattered.”

The National Tertiary Education Union has declared it’s considering launching legal action over the University’s decision.

Victorian Secretary Colin Long has told The Age that the union could launch legal action in the federal court as soon as Friday.

Writing in The Guardian, broadcaster Jeff Sparrow described the attacks on Ward’s character as a “McCarthyist campaign”. Sparrow described the decision to suspend Ward as “disgraceful”.

OIP Staff


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