Page 729 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 5 April 2022
Minister, how long have teachers and staff been abused, sworn at, screamed at and subjected to sexualised behaviour and violence on a daily basis at this school?
MS BERRY: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. Calwell High School has been experiencing some challenges over the last six months or so. The ACT government, through the Education Directorate, has been providing additional support to the Calwell school community, implementing the Positive Behaviour for Learning program to ensure that the school can have a positive and respectful culture. In addition, the school has been able to access as a priority the relief teaching pool to make sure that it can provide additional teachers when there are absences at the school.
Of course, COVID has exacerbated circumstances at that school as far as staff absences are concerned. That has led, in more recent times, to an incident at that school which is unacceptable. The WorkSafe notice is upsetting to read. It is distressing for me and for everybody who has read it, and particularly for teachers and school staff at that school.
I would like to assure the school community, schoolteachers and staff that the Education Directorate will continue to work very closely with that school community to ensure that additional supports are in place. We will work closely with stakeholders like the Education Union and the CPSU to ensure that the WorkSafe notice is complied with and responded to appropriately.
MS LEE: Minister, are you aware of similar problems, on any level, at any other ACT government school?
MS BERRY: That is a fairly broad question. I can say that there are a number of schools in the ACT that are finding absences with regard to COVID a challenge and have moved to partially remote education. That is not just in public schools but also non-government schools. As for incidents in our schools like this one, this is a rare incident and the government responds by providing additional support when it becomes aware of these incidents.
Our schools are safe schools. They are great schools. Our school staff and teachers care deeply about the education and health and welfare of students and young people. So we continue to support them with the implementation of the Positive Behaviour for Learning program and by providing additional support staff when that is required.
MR HANSON: Minister, how many children or staff have been assaulted at Calwell High School since you became aware of this problem about six months ago?
MS BERRY: I think there are two incidents that are being referred to here. One is the notice that has been provided by WorkSafe, who have interviewed a number of staff and teachers at the school, and concerns around workforce numbers and the ability to provide a safe and good teaching environment at the school. The Education Directorate will work with WorkSafe, school staff, teachers and the school principal to understand the advice and evidence that was provided to WorkSafe. Once that evidence—