Year four and five students at Torrens Primary have been learning about asylum seekers and refugees. They've read books and poems, watched documentaries and held a special assembly, with teachers hoping their charges gain empathy and understanding for people fleeing persecution.
Staff have been at pains to keep the topic apolitical. The nine, 10 and the 11-year-olds have drawn their own conclusions about Australia's approach to asylum seekers.
"When I heard what they were doing to the refugees it made me really sad because everyone should have at least a safe home to live in," said Christian Wang.
Classmate Catherine Bashford agreed: "Let them live with us. They enrich our culture.
"What if we had to leave our home because soldiers were attacking us? They would let us into their home, so we should do the same."
Torrens Primary has channelled the hardships faced by refugees and asylum seekers into a performance aimed at promoting a broader understanding of the issue.
Their seven minute story dance, Seeking Freedom, was awarded Best Raising Awareness Story at recent performing arts competition Wakakirri.
The school's performance followed a refugee, played by Catherine, as she left her homeland in search of a safer future.
After arriving in Australia by boat she was held in an offshore detention centre , where the performance started and ended.
Teacher Sarah Nicholas said the school - a long-running participant in the competition - had previously centred performances on the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Alzheimer's and Ned Kelly.
"When we find that inspiration, if we feel we can put a story around it, it can come from anything," she said.
"[Refugee issues are] obviously very topical so we’ve been careful because you do need to present it in the appropriate way.
"The feedback we’ve had has been extremely positive and people really feel the story - there’s lots of tears in the audience."
Indeed, some parents from other schools have written to the school to congratulate them on the handling of the issue.
"There’s no blame," Ms Nicholas said.
"This is what’s happening for people. These are situations they find themselves in. This is what they have to do to try and find a better life than what they’ve got.
"We’re not political in any way - it’s just the factual evidence that we can show."
More than 230 schools participated in national Wakakirri story dance competitions with ACT schools taking the stage at the Canberra Theatre in August. The six finalists - Rosary Primary, St Gregory's Primary, Charnwood-Dunlop School, St Anthony's Parish School, St Francis of Assisi Primary and Torrens - will compete in the regional competition on Monday.
The winner of that heat will compete for the national Story of the Year award.
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