Jason Clare to lead local students on trip to a lost part of our history


Federal Member for Blaxland Jason Clare MP, will lead four young people from our local community on the Sandakan Death March in April.


The four students who will be marching on the trek are:

  • Sam Jalloh from Punchbowl Boys High School;
  • Katherine Kopsaris from St Euphemia College;
  • Chanel Steiner from Bankstown Girls High School; and
  • Issa Jebara from Granville South High School.

Mr Clare will be accompanied by Liberal MP Scott Morrison, Independent MP Rob Oakeshott and students from their areas. The Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO is the patron of the Sandakan Mateship Trek.

Mr Clare said it was important for students to understand the significance of Sandakan.

“The Sandakan Death March is the single worst atrocity in Australian military history,” Mr Clare said.

“In 1945, more than 1,000 sick and starving Australian Prisoners of War were force marched 260 km from Sandakan to Ranau. Only six Australians survived.

“I am taking the students on this trek to pass on the stories of courage and mateship from Sandakan.


“The students will retrace the footsteps of the prisoners of war who were force marched 260 km from Sandakan to Ranau,” Mr Clare said.

Katherine Kopsaris said she is going on the Mateship Trek to get a better understanding of what the Australian POWs went through.

“This is a great honour, this trek will retrace the footsteps of so many young Australian soldiers during World War Two,” Katherine Kopsaris said.

Chanel Steiner said she looked forward to sharing the experience with the other young people who will be going on the Trek.

“I hope to become culturally enriched by the experience. Its an important trek into Australia’s wartime history and I will also get the chance to meet eleven other young people from across NSW and find out about their communities,” Chanel Steiner said.

Issa Jebara said he was proud to have been chosen to represent his school on the Mateship Trek.

“When I was in year 9 I was sent to another school because of discipline problems. While there, I realised I needed to change my life. I returned to Granville South and three years on I have never been suspended or in serious trouble and have made a full change.

“Now I am representing the school that once didn’t want me because of my behaviour and now they see me as role model to others,” Issa Jebara said.

The group will leave on Friday 8 April and return on Sunday 17 April, 2011.

The Sandakan Mateship Trek has been sponsored by the following local organisations:

  • Bankstown Sports Club;
  • Interlink – M5 Motorway; and
  • Bankstown RSL.