Reflections from the riot zone: The Fair Go Project and student engagement in a besieged community

Year: 2005

Author: Munns, Geoff, Zammit, Katina, Woodward, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In early 2005 a police chase in the Macquarie Fields area of Sydney resulted in the death of a young man. The aftermath was a lot of community unrest, especially among the youth of the area. There were confrontations between these youth and large numbers of police brought in to “control” the mob. The unrest lasted for a week and the media spotlight was intense. Helicopters flew over the community 24 hours of this week.

Well last week I was scared. When it was home time I was scared to walk home by myself because I always walk by myself. I couldn’t sleep because of the helicopters and I was scared to even sleep in my own room. I always slept in the lounge room with my brother, mum and dad. I couldn’t sleep until the helicopters went. Since riots have been happening I couldn’t sleep properly but now I can. I am glad that I think it is over. I hope it ends soon (Year 6 student writing in a reflective journal).

Much of the media attention attempted to blame families for its social disadvantage. The media attention was reinforced by politicians who publicly stated that the indirect blame on these community troubles should fall on parents, saying that poor values taught at home were responsible for growing lawlessness in this area of Sydney.