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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 3 Hansard (9 March) . .

Page.. 845..


I am clearly on the record for the last eight years in this place as being the most consistent defender of students and staff who have suffered because of the inertia and wilful blindness of this government in addressing bullying within the ACT education system, in schools, in school playgrounds and in ACT tertiary institutions.

As a migrant starting school in Australia, coming from a country that most of my classmates had never heard of, I think I know a thing or two about bullying at school. As an English migrant, I suspect Mr Hanson might also be able to share a story or two on this topic. I think we need to recognise that it matters not what issue someone is bullied on; there is no measure or gradient of offence. Bullying is bullying and whether it is because of race, religion, sexual preference, disability or intellect, it affects the victim equally and deeply.

We should all be prepared to stand up when we see bullying being perpetrated in the workplace, in our social lives—anywhere—and to call out the bully. I have seen too many victims of bullying come through my office to not appreciate that bullying takes many forms and affects people in many ways. Yes, it affects young people, in fact, any person who has issues dealing with their identity.

But sexual identity is not the only trauma young people face at school. What of those who struggle with a desire to keep up academically with their classmates and live up to their parents' expectation when learning does not come as easily to them as it does to their classmates? What of those kids who live with difficult home circumstances, where alcohol or drugs or domestic violence are everyday occurrences? We had a whole report only late last year about students with complex needs and challenging behaviours. They too face tough times at school being picked on and excluded.

I would particularly highlight Mr Hinder's second call on the Assembly and ask ministers to reflect on what they could or should have done better. Mr Hinder's motion asks the Assembly to work with teachers, students and parents to address bullying to ensure that all students can learn in a safe and inclusive environment. To me, that is the most important and most relevant point in this motion. Why merely single out transphobic and homophobic discrimination, and by doing so suggest that it is the only form of bullying that matters? On that basis I wish to move an amendment to Mr Hinder's motion. I circulate now the amendment. The Canberra Liberals amend the motion as follows—

MADAM SPEAKER: I presume you have more to say, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: I do.

MADAM SPEAKER: We cannot actually move that the amendment be agreed to until it has been circulated.

MR DOSZPOT: My apologies.

MADAM SPEAKER: The amendment will have to be picked up, copied and circulated.


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