Teacher and Greens candidate stood down for telling students about climate action


The Greens candidate for the seat of Bega, Will Douglas, who until this week has been working as a casual public school teacher, was told he won’t be offered more work after he spoke at a public event last week and informed local school students of this Friday’s climate strike.

Greens Candidate for Bega Will Douglas said:

“I was speaking on my own time in my lunch break as a Greens candidate at a youth forum. Now I don’t have any work. It shouldn’t be this hard to speak up for climate action.

“The forum was organised by a youth advocacy organisation and attended by students from across the district, students from my own school were present, and I was just giving them some facts about climate change.

“The forum was not on school grounds, I was invited as a candidate and was not there as a teacher. I never claimed to be there as a spokesperson for the Department of Education and had informed the school of where I was going and why.

“At the conclusion of the event I stated to the students: "And please don't forget March 15 the climate strike…. so if there's something happening at your school will you please get online and register because there's a whole community out there wanting to support you guys, young people, in that strike."

“It’s not my job to tell students to strike, they will make up their own minds and have been clearly leading the debate. However shortly after this a complaint was made, and a transcript of what I said seems to have found its way into the hands of the newspaper.

“I don’t shy away from my comments in any way, shape or form - climate change is the greatest threat facing all of us, most acutely young people,” he said.

“I am engaging in this investigation in good faith and I believe it will eventually deliver a fair outcome.

“However there is a live question about how The Daily Telegraph came to be in possession of details of an internal investigation that I was not aware of, within 24 hours of its commencement. I still have not received a copy of the complaint,” Mr Douglas said.

“The Australian Education Union on Friday, the same day this complaint was made, publicly expressed support for students to strike on climate,” Douglas said.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said:

“Political candidates need to be able to speak out without their job being threatened, and this is especially important for public sector workers like teachers.

“Will was talking publicly about climate change, at an event which was also attended by Andrew Constance who was on the public payroll. If this can be used to seriously threaten Will’s employment then there is something seriously wrong in this state.

“This was on Mr Douglas’s own time, during his lunch break and with full knowledge of his supervisors at work. We will be standing by Will and I would hope that the thousands and thousands who come out to rally for climate on Friday will also back him.

“We are proud of all of our candidates and how they are so willing to give up their own time to campaign for a better future and real action on climate,” Shoebridge said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley p: 0403 777 137 e: andrew.bradley@nsw.greens.org.au