Page 795 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 6 April 2022

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the students and talk with them about their future and some of the opportunities that exist for them.

Clearly, though, despite those significant efforts, the issues at Calwell have arisen. I have touched on those, and details have been outlined to us through this motion and the comments of the union and in the prohibition notice. In thinking about the circumstances at Calwell, it strikes me that the important questions are: what has caused this situation and what is being done about it? I think that when we reflect on the cause there are obviously a number of matters. This is not something that has just happened, and it is not a single factor that has driven it. The minister has spoken about the consequences for staff shortages caused by the pandemic and, clearly, there are a range of stressors in that place. We have all observed that in recent times. Across the community the pandemic has caused staffing issues. It has put stress on workplaces, it has left people fatigued and it has left people sometimes struggling with their emotional regulation, frankly. We know the whole community is under strain from this pandemic.

I have touched on some of the social challenges that arise, particularly at Calwell High School. There will be children who are acting out. In my mind, this needs considered, long-term investment, good support mechanisms and strong public support for lifting up that community and providing the interventions that can help make a real difference. That takes a concerted effort. It raises systematic questions around: is the Education Directorate getting the measures right to respond to the sorts of circumstances that have been described in this situation? I think that when we reflect on causes, it also goes to making sure that there are enough resources in the system.

I reflect on the media release issued by the Australian Education Union after the federal budget last week in which they noted that in the recent federal budget there was a cut of $559 million over the next three years for public schools from the federal Morrison government, whilst over the forward estimates we will see an increase of $2.6 billion in private school investment from the federal government. When we are looking at the spectrum of issues that are around, that resourcing distortion cannot be ignored.

I have sought advice on what the specific situation has been at Calwell High School. Noting the comments about some of the medium-term issues that have been raised at Calwell, it is worth noting that since 2020 there has been a range of efforts put in at Calwell High. These include an additional deputy principal to focus on student behaviour management, wellbeing and positive behaviour for learning; human resources support to prioritise recruitment for the school and have a full staffing profile for 2022; and prioritising the school’s access to the central casual relief pool.

We have employed an additional coach to support the school with a positive behaviour for learning uplift. There have been a range of capital works investments to redesign and upgrade student services, flexible education spaces, the front office and the sick bay. There is a small group program to support student and staff safety and wellbeing, as well as customised employee assistance programs and staff wellbeing programs to support staff at the school.

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