EISTEDDFOD PHOTO BAN IS ?CRAZY
By BELINDA SCOTT
A BAN on photographing their own children's performances at the Coffs Harbour Eisteddfod has left a bad taste in parents' mouths.
Signs and announcements at the eisteddfod's schools day at the Coffs Harbour Racecourse on Tuesday publicised the ban.
Upset and disappointed parents said they had not recived any note or warning so had missed out on pictures of children in special hairdos, makeup and costumes.
One mother described the ban as 'crazy', saying the children were performing in public and parents just wanted a picture of their own children.
"A man announced they had had a lot of trouble last year and had nearly got sued, so people would be stopped if they tried to take photographs," she said.
"There were a few disgruntled parents and a few pretended they didn't know and went ahead, but nobody challenged it. I came along several years ago when it was at the Ex-Services Club and there was nothing like this.
"I'm just wondering if it's a knee-jerk reaction. Can they (Eisteddfod Society) do that? Are they right or are they panicking?"
Coffs Harbour Eisteddfod Society vice-president Phyllis Condon said the ban had been in place for at least four years.
The Organising Secretary for the eisteddfod's school days, Fiona Hulbert, said she hated having to tell parents they couldn't take photos or videos but they had provided an avenue for them to access photos.
She said the rule was being enforced because the society needed to cover itself because of child protection and privacy laws.
What was new this year was the number and size of signs publicising the rule and stricter enforcement, and 90 per cent of parents had complied.
She said the committee had decided this after an incident at last year's eisteddfod, as well as hearing the experience of organisers at other eisteddfods and advice from the Eisteddfod Association of Australia about the need to protect kids.
"Who knows whether we have gone too far? If anyone wants to challenge it, we might be going too far," Mrs Hulbert said. "We are protecting the children, who come first ? but we are not far behind."
"We are all volunteers and I would hate to see the Eisteddfod Society have to fold because of an incident that jeopardised this important community event."
Bishop Druitt College teacher Truus Muelenbroeks said she hadn't known about the ban.
"But this was a little 'hiccup' which maybe could have been avoided if all the teachers had read all the notes ? perhaps we can arrange for just one or two people to take videos for the school in future years," she said.