NSWCCL Statement on the School Srike: Young People Should Be Supported to Exercise Free Speech and Expression

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties stands with High School students who plan to strike on Friday 24 November.

The extraordinary criticism of High School students and University students engaging in their democratic right to build peaceful coalitions and movements of young people does not detract from the fact that students have a right to engage in protests. The CCL affirms the rights of the public, especially young people, to exercise their right to protest free from political intimidation and criticism.

It is appalling that the Minns Government seems to be targeting young protestors, undermining our young people from engaging in public and political spaces. Our Premier appears completely disconnected from the issues that concern our youth.

Young people who strike and protest are using their voices and direct action to contribute to state and federal political discourse which largely excludes their participation. In an environment where politicians of the day are afforded such power and privilege, the irony of demonising and criticising young people for speaking out about important issues directly impacting their future, is not lost on the broader community.

We remind all members of parliament that they have an obligation not to resort to cheap political point scoring when it comes to the right to protest. The political responses to people exercising the right to protest should be viewed as a thermometer measuring the health of our democracy.

NSW has some of the most draconian anti-protest laws in our country and it is a poor reflection of our current political leadership that they are not taking active steps to repeal these laws.

We have been defending the right to protest since 1963 and we will continue to do so.

We stand alongside students who wish to participate in public protests. We congratulate the students in demonstrating courage, leadership and on their political engagement.

Read the Declaration on our Right to Protest here.