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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (30 May) . . Page.. 1196..


MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, order! Mr Smyth, I have called you to order.

MR BARR: I have already made this announcement. We opened the new facility at Melrose the week before last. The government will be investing in additional gymnasium facilities for those high schools that do not currently have them.

There is a series of strategic investments in new facilities in public schools—a variety of important upgrades to improve the environmental sustainability of our schools. If there is a clear message from the community, it is that they want to see government take a leading role. Our schools are one of the larger consumers of electricity and water. We have the opportunity, through this significant investment, to provide the resources needed for schools to make the change; to take that leap into providing much more environmentally sustainable facilities.

The advantage that this brings to schools is that it reduces their ongoing expenditures on electricity and water. That money is then able to be invested back into education. It is a clear win for the environment, it is a clear win for our schools, and it is a clear win for education—made possible only by the reform process that the government went through last year. There were significant investments in so many areas of public education to ensure that ACT schools—all ACT public schools—are of a standard that our community would expect and that we are able to see an ongoing process of reform that will deliver benefits in the long term for students in the ACT.

It is not just a one-year program; it is a four-year significant investment program that will see major gains. Those opposite have opposed it every inch of the way. "Good money after bad"—we have heard it time and again from Mrs Dunne. She stands condemned today. It is the first time in five months that they have bothered to ask a question on education. Is it any wonder?

Schools—bullying

MRS BURKE: My question is to the minister for education. Research shows that students with certain disabilities, such as Aspberger's syndrome, are likely to be bullied in schools. What programs does your department have in place to prevent and respond to bullying of students with disabilities?

MR BARR: There is a variety of policies in place. I will take the time that Mrs Burke has afforded me to detail those to the Assembly. As I indicated in an earlier answer, the Department of Education and Training has revised a variety of policies and provided further guidance and direction to schools in promoting safe school environments. There is a series of papers: the providing safe schools preschool to year 12 document; Countering bullying, harassment and violence in ACT public schools; Countering sexual harassment in ACT public schools; and Countering racism in ACT public schools.

These policies require all schools to have practices and programs in place to ensure that students are protected from bullying, harassment and violence. Schools must report instances of bullying, harassment and violence that pose an immediate threat to the safety of students and staff, to the central office of the department. Schools also


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