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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (15 September) . .

Page.. 3004..


MS BURCH: Again, specialist staff routinely visit all our schools, and there would have been teaching staff at that school that were aware of that structure between the 10th and the 27th, when it was dismantled. That fact is undisputed; it is on the public record on the Education and Training Directorate's website. Is that a disappointment to us? Absolutely. Will those officials be counselled? Absolutely.

Schools—autism

MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, was there a policy in place for how teachers were to administer the use of the cage which was the subject of the recent inquiry? If so, was the policy written with the support or guidance of the directorate?

MS BURCH: There was no input from the directorate into the structure or use of that space.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Lawder.

MS LAWDER: Minister, how can an inquiry that takes 5½ months to conclude arrive at this conclusion that the principal acted alone and is totally responsible for this structure?

MS BURCH: It arrived at that decision because that was the finding of the independent investigation. That is the finding that was accepted, absolutely accepted, by the principal. Indeed, if you listen to the other commentary of the AEU, they accept the findings. They accept those findings as well.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, how certain can you be that the structure was used only once, given there is a photo of a student in the cage?

MS BURCH: Through the investigation it was determined that the structure was used once. I am aware now, though, that a photo has appeared. It has appeared. I am on record to say that I am immensely disappointed about those photos being published. I have spent five months not wanting them out in the public arena—on record, and I will say it again and continually—thinking of the family involved in not wanting to have those images public. It is a fine line. I accept there are many in the community that might think seeing that structure has a place. I personally do not think that.

Once I saw that photo I asked for information, and the structure was used once to manage the child's behaviour. But the structure was also accessed by kids in the class moving in and out. As I also understand, within that freedom of movement, perhaps there was an image taken to construct a story book. I go back to your question around the policy. This is where there were some story books. That is a normal, traditional part of therapy when a child needs to point to visual cues about calming and other behavioural management, and that that could have been used for that.


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