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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 2252..


you advise of the current ratio in ACT primary schools, high schools and colleges of students to school counsellors?

MR BARR: Not off the top of my head, Mr Speaker, I can't. That information I can provide. What I can say is that I am most certainly aware, Ms Hunter, that this matter has been raised, I think, at each and every annual reports and estimates hearings in the last few years, that the directorate worked with the Australian Education Union in relation to sourcing qualified psychologists to fill funded vacancies for a range of positions that were not filled in years past but now have been.

The ACT, when compared with other states and territories, has I believe the best or the second best ratio of students to school counsellors. I do not off the top of my head have the breakdown for primary, high school or college. I would note, of course, that in addition to school counsellors, school welfare teams within the various education settings are supported by, amongst other positions, youth workers, pastoral care support workers and a number of other discipline-based professions across a network of provision.

As the member would be aware, we have a number of trials underway bringing in a range of outside organisations to assist with student welfare and pastoral care support within our primary schools, high schools and colleges. But I am happy to take the detail of Ms Hunter's question on notice and provide current information for the 2011 school year on the ratios across primary, high school and college. I am very confident that, when compared with others states and territories, the ACT will fare very favourably in that comparison.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Ms Hunter?

MS HUNTER: If you find that the ratios are unsatisfactory, what steps will you take to improve those ratios?

MR BARR: That would be a resourcing issue. There would be a number of possible responses were that to be the case. I do not believe it is, but, were it to be the case, then one could consider redirecting resources from other areas of student welfare and pastoral support into dedicated counsellor positions. However, I do not believe that the evidence is there to suggest that that would be the most appropriate policy response, and, in fact, it is having a multi-disciplinary approach, bringing in the skills of a variety of different support workers across the youth sector with pastoral care support dedicated teachers. We funded an initiative in the budget a few years past to provide a dedicated pastoral care teacher within each of our government high schools. That was an important initiative that has been funded in recent years to strengthen student welfare support within the public education system.

MS LE COUTEUR: A supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Le Couteur.

MS LE COUTEUR: What is your response to the coronial inquest into the suicide of a 15-year-old boy who was the victim of school bullying, which was handed down in


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