Australia

Australia indigenous poet subjected to student abuse

A stock image of someone writing at a desk Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The abuse began after a poem was featured in a school exam

Australian education authorities say they are "appalled" after an award-winning poet was subjected to abuse on a Facebook page for students.

The posts targeted Ellen van Neerven after one of her poems, Mango, was featured in a final-year exam question.

The abuse included memes, with one depicting the indigenous author as a monkey. Some students later claimed not to have known who wrote the poem.

Authorities in New South Wales (NSW) said it was "absolutely unacceptable".

"I am appalled by the abuse of the author," said NSW Education Standards Authority chief David de Carvalho.

"This is a completely inappropriate response and I hope those involved see fit to apologise to Ms van Neerven."

The abuse included expletive-laden comments - some about the author personally - and others such as "[the poem] read like a four year old wrote it".

One meme featured a monkey with a caption "leaked image of the author of 'mango'". A person claiming to be the post's author denied it was racist.

The abuse prompted other Australian authors to post messages of support for the poet.

Ms van Neerven won a Queensland Literary Award in 2013. Mango is from her second book, Comfort Food, which has been shortlisted for a NSW Premier's Literary Award.

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