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FNAWN condemns HSC students’ abuse of van Neerven

The First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN) has condemned the online abuse of writer Ellen van Neerven after a poem from her 2016 collection, Comfort Food (UQP), appeared on the New South Wales HSC English exam on 16 October.

NSW HSC students sent van Neerven abusive messages via Facebook personal messaging, Twitter direct messages, emails, and other forms of personal communication. Students also altered van Neerven’s Wikipedia page.

FNAWN said some students ‘also attacked other Australian writers and supporters who felt compelled to reject the online abuse’. ‘Hundreds of accounts engaged in this online abuse towards Ms van Neerven, abuse came from apparently fake profiles, and some abusers hastily deleted their disgraceful content,’ said FNAWN. ‘We know that at least one young writer who stood up against the trolling was subjected to abuse that contained sexual harassment.’

FNAWN said that at a time when students are finishing their high school education, this online abuse ‘sours a milestone for many’. ‘FNAWN acknowledges that not all the students commenting on the poem were aware of the extent and nature of the online bullying,’ said FNAWN. ‘We also think it’s possible that not all the account-holders who abused Ms van Neerven and supporters were NSW HSC students.’

NSW Department of Education and the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) CEO David de Carvalho said he is ‘appalled by the abuse of the author’. ‘This is a completely inappropriate response and I hope those involved see fit to apologise to Ms van Neerven’.


Category: Local news