Page 731 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 5 April 2022
As far as the Education Union are concerned, we also gratefully receive the work that they do on behalf of teachers, and their work with our government to ensure that all of our schools are safe schools and provide an excellent education for all students—
Mr Hanson: Madam Speaker, the question was not about what WorkSafe is doing. The question very clearly followed the Australian Education Union’s claims that this school is under-resourced. Minister, why is this school under-resourced? It is not about whether or not WorkSafe is doing an investigation.
MADAM SPEAKER: The minister is being relevant to the question, as she has been speaking about resources within the school.
MS BERRY: As everybody will be aware, there is an international health pandemic that has exacerbated a teaching shortage that has been experienced here in the ACT and across the country. That is the case. That is a fact. Nobody is making that up. That is a reality, and that is a reality that our schools have had to live with over the last couple of years, but particularly within this first term of 2022. It has been an incredibly challenging time, and I thank them and acknowledge the work that they have been doing.
MR HANSON: Minister, how has this situation been allowed to develop to such a critical point, given that you were informed of these problems at least last year?
MS BERRY: As I said, it is not about blaming COVID; it is about COVID being a reality and exacerbating the teaching shortage that we have, that we are all aware of, and that is occurring across the country. COVID has absolutely impacted the ability of our schools to operate in the same way they were 2½ years ago. That has had to change, and we have had to change a lot of things in our community, including within our school communities. We are doing that and supporting our schools to get through this incredibly difficult time. It is not just public schools; non-government schools as well are facing these teaching shortages, and are also facing these issues around having to move different parts of their schools to remote education. This is a difficult and challenging time, and we are working closely with all stakeholders to make sure we can do the very best by them all.
MS LEE: Minister, how widespread are these problems, given all schools face the same chronic staff shortages, and presumably COVID?
MS BERRY: I can advise that there are around five public schools at the moment. I do not know the number of non-government or Catholic schools that have had to move to remote education, but I understand that has been the case as well. That has been directly as a result of COVID, staff members being impacted by positive COVID results, and the inability to replace all of those staff across all of our schools.
Volunteers—arrangements and conditions
MR BRADDOCK: My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety. Minister, I met with volunteers ACT who made me aware of some of the challenges local community organisations have with industrial relations and