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Empowering tomorrow's citizens

Human Rights … Milpera State High School Deputy Principal Julie Peel (centre) with Milpera school leaders. 'We acknowledge that every child is different … yet they all have one thing in common, the right to an education'

Forty countries. Thirty-eight languages. More than 250 students. One school. One common goal.

Milpera State High School, an intensive English language school located in the western Brisbane suburb of Chelmer, is dedicated to helping newly arrived refugees and migrants achieve their shared aim: Empowering students through English language learning and settlement.

Milpera State High School Deputy Principal Julie Peel said one of the school’s core values was the fundamental human right of education. 
'We believe that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights developed by the United Nations and led by Eleanor Roosevelt is as important today as it was in 1948,' Julie said.

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December—the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

'Everyone has the right to an education,' Julie said. 'In 2020, we will have our first human rights law in Queensland, which states that every child has the right to an appropriate education. We are very fortunate at Milpera to be able to deliver this appropriate education for our students, many of whom have been deprived of the education they deserved.

'An intensive English language course is a critical pathway for students who are new to Australia and speak a language other than English. To be successful in the school system it is important for students to know what to say, when and to whom.'

Julie said Milpera’s curriculum and school environment catered for the diverse range of their students’ learning needs.
'In one classroom, we may have a student who can do calculus but has no spoken English, and another student who can speak English, but as yet has no reading or writing skills in any language,' she said.

All of Milpera’s students are new immigrants to Australia and spend between 6 months and 2 years at the school, depending on English language learning and settlement needs, until they are ready to transition to mainstream schooling or TAFE.

'Many of our students come from refugee backgrounds and, in some instances, this is the first experience of school they have ever had. We acknowledge that every child is different—with a different experience, different culture, different foods, different language—yet they all have one thing in common, the right to an education,' Julie said.

'English is the key to becoming a fully participating individual in Australian society. It ensures our students reach their potential.'

For more information on Human Rights Day, go to the United Nations website.

Head to the Queensland Government website for information on the implementation of the Human Rights Act 2019, and the Queensland Human Rights Commission website for more information on human rights in Queensland.

Did you know?

The Human Rights Act 2019 protects the right of every child to access primary and secondary education appropriate to their needs. It also says that every person has the right to have access, based on their abilities, to equally accessible further vocational education and training.

Download the Right to education fact sheet (PDF, 333KB)

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
24 February 2020