Page 61 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 8 February 2022
COVID-19 pandemic—relief teachers
MR PARTON: My question is to the Minister for Education. Minister, recently the Australian Education Union ACT secretary Patrick Judge said that the lack of relief teachers to cover for sick or isolating teachers was the biggest issue schools were facing this year. He also said, “It’s going to be very challenging for schools to continue in person.” Minister, how many relief teachers are available across the ACT, and will that be enough for schools to continue to teach in person?
MS BERRY: I do not have the number of relief teachers that are available at the moment, but I understand that 85-or-so relief teachers have been engaged over the last week or so within our school communities. I will see if I can get the actual number of relief teachers. Again, that number might change depending on people being available or coming in to offer their services as part of the casual relief pool.
MR PARTON: Minister, why do we have such a shortage of relief teachers in the ACT, and why is it that you do not even know how many are available?
MS BERRY: I thank Mr Parton for the question. As he will know—and I have responded to this question a number of times in this Assembly—there is a shortage of teachers all across the country, and the ACT is not immune to that. However, what the ACT government is doing differently is working very closely with the teachers’ union, Australian Education Union to set up a taskforce, which they are a part of, to investigate the reasons why there is a teaching shortage in the ACT and what more we can do in the ACT to encourage people to take up teaching as a profession and to encourage people to stay in our public schools and continue to provide our children with the best possible education.
MR HANSON: Minister, when is the taskforce due to report, and will you commit to tabling any report from the taskforce here in the Assembly?
MS BERRY: The taskforce has just commenced its work. The first thing that was done as part of the taskforce work, with support from the Education Union, was to set up a central relief pool point where the Education Directorate actually does the running around for relief teachers should a particular school need to have relief staff on site. That has already made a huge difference last year and in the beginning of this year, where schools do not have to do the checking of lists and the phoning of teachers to find out when they are available. The Education Directorate does that. The taskforce does not have a timeframe of when it will be reporting. It will be a continuous piece of work working with the Education Union on the issues that arose around the teaching workforce but also how teachers work in our schools and what more we can do as a government and as a community to support this wonderful profession.
MS CASTLEY: My question is to the minister for police. Constituents have contacted the Canberra Liberals to say they are concerned by the rising rates of crime