Page 786 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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basis under the watch of this minister. I am devastated for our parents, who rightly expect their children to be safe at school and are being completely and utterly betrayed under the watch of this minister. And I am devastated for the Canberra community who are seeing the state of education in our capital city go from bad to worse under the watch of this minister. On this minister’s watch, Calwell High School has become every teacher’s, every student’s, every parent’s worst nightmare.

This is a direct quote from the WorkSafe ACT prohibition notice: “Teachers and administration staff daily being abused, threatened, sworn at, screamed at, objects thrown at them and subject to sexualised behaviour or some form of violence from students.” An example of one class collapse was where there were around 75 students with only one teacher and one learning support officer, requesting relief teachers from the directorate, only to find some of those teachers were redirected elsewhere in the ACT public school community, causing class collapse. There was an example of a staff member locking themselves in a cupboard and crying uncontrollably due to work pressures. The teaching and administrative cohort on the whole was at breaking point, physically and emotionally, due to occupational violence and staff shortages. Some teachers are working 19.5 hours per week above the maximum face-to-face teaching load due to staff shortages. If teachers put in too many reports about occupational violence, the directorate uses its compassionate transfer option to “remove the noisy vessels”.

Inspectors spoke to a teacher at the school who had been assaulted by a student last week. This assault included the teacher sustaining a dislocated shoulder, breaking several teeth, sustaining welts to his lower arm and bruising to his back. The teacher was trying to protect the student assailant from assaulting another student in the school principal’s office. The teacher advised that during this incident the principal was thrown across her desk.

Mr Acting Speaker, if I told you that this was a script from a Hollywood movie about some school in some disadvantaged part of the world you would not blink twice. The shocking fact is that these are just some of the issues contained in the prohibition notice issued by WorkSafe ACT to one of our schools right here in Canberra. When the minister gets up to defend the indefensible, when she gets up to defend this shocking situation, she will no doubt have a whole host of reasons, none of which are her doing. One of them will be to blame teacher shortages on COVID.

I remind members in this chamber that this is not the only or the first time that we have seen incidents at this school. As far back as 2013, almost a decade ago, and certainly long before COVID, the police were called to an altercation between students involving blades and other sharp weapons at the school. Only last year, the school was locked down after a disturbance and a young person was taken into police custody.

A shockingly violent, traumatic school environment is not the Canberra that we know and love. But this is the Canberra, this is the reality, under the watch of this Labor-Greens government and this is what is happening right now under the watch of this minister. We can only hope that this horrifying situation is not happening elsewhere in a Canberra school. But in her appalling performance in question time

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