Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 3 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 738..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
An independent investigator was appointed to conduct an investigation into the claims of bullying and harassment by an executive teacher. The matter is a complex one and involves interpersonal issues between a number of staff members. These issues arise from time to time in many workplaces. Counselling opportunities have been provided to each staff member involved through the Department of Education and Training's employee assistance program provider, Davidson Trahaire.
Actually, Davidson Trahaire specifically told the department that these matters were not just personality clashes and eventually had to decline to deal with the bullying teacher because this teacher was too difficult to deal with.
It was interesting that, when I first raised this in the Assembly back in August last year, by mere coincidence, there were a number of high school teachers in the gallery as part of a program here. It was most interesting that, when they left the gallery after the question was asked, the conversation turned on whom it could possibly be. Most of the teachers in that group could identify, unfortunately I suppose, the teacher. So the thing is that what was happening was an ongoing, running sore. On one occasion one of the affected teachers was told, I think by the former principal of the school concerned, "One day, in about 10 years time, we will all sit down and we will have a drink and I will tell you actually what is going on. I will tell you the full story."
Mr Speaker, something very wrong is going on with the way teachers are being treated in ACT schools. Just recently a teacher came to me with some concerns. One of the concerns, one of the many concerns that she raised, was that, despite glowing references at her previous school-she went to another school-she suddenly could not put a foot right with the new executive teacher. It resulted in considerable stress. She was put into classes that she was not qualified to teach, which is very stressful. As Mr Seselja said today, this ended up with this woman having an elevated blood pressure, the sort that would bring on strokes. When she told my staff and me what her blood pressure was at one stage, it left me gasping.
She made a formal complaint to WorkCover, and all that WorkCover did, in investigating this claim, was to inquire whether the teacher's blood pressure had gone down. When she said that it had, they expressed satisfaction about that. But nothing has happened, except that this women was a teacher on a contract and they solved the problem by not renewing this woman's contract this year.
Everywhere I go, Mr Speaker, current and former teachers tell me that bullying is rife in ACT schools; there are a range of complaints made to WorkCover; there are a range of compensable incidents before Comcare. I think that it is inappropriate for the department and the minister to just brush it under the carpet and say it is not happening.
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (5.01): Mr Speaker, I stand to talk about the multicultural ball which was a major activity in the multicultural festival, both of which, in their own rights, were extremely successful. It was quite pleasing to see that this year's ball was a far more successful and robust affair than that which we saw in 2004, where things had