Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 7 April 2022) . . Page.. 915 ..
Minister, you now have two reports—one reporting 1,600 violent incidents, of which 71 per cent related to assault, in the last quarter—a total number of 2,100 this year, I understand—and a union report from last year saying that one in five teachers experienced violence in the classroom as a result of split classes. You were saying that these incidents were “very rare”. How can you say that when you were told last year that one in five teachers experienced violence in the classroom?
MS BERRY: I am not suggesting at all that there are no issues that occur within our schools, and we have encouraged our school communities to report these incidents, no matter how large or how small they might seem. We absolutely encourage it, and sometimes that will mean there will be multiple reports on the same incident within a school that are collected into RiskMan. Yes, there are issues that have been reported in RiskMan, but I have said that this particular incident is rare. This kind of critical incident is rare in our schools. Swearing at a schoolteacher is very different to the incident that we are talking about this week, and that is also reported as an assault.
I think we need to be careful about the debates that we are having in this place and the political point-scoring that we are having in this space by members of the opposition around these issues, and not to conflate it more than it needs to be. Yes, there are incidents in our schools, but they are rare, as far as the incident we have been talking about this week is concerned.
MR HANSON: Minister, why did you not act immediately when you were told last year by the union that one in five teachers had experienced violence in the classroom?
MS BERRY: I act every day in my role as education minister to ensure that our workplaces are as safe as possible, and that our schools are as safe as possible for students to attend. That is a continuous piece of work. We will continue to work closely with the Education Union on this. It is a difficult issue. It is a complex issue. It is an issue that reflects the challenges that we have in our society with regard to managing violence. Violence is unacceptable anywhere, and it is unacceptable in our schools. I will continue to work closely with our school communities to ensure that they remain a safe place and that, when incidents do occur, we can put the supports in place.
MS LEE: Minister, are you saying that the union are wrong when they reported last year about one in five teachers experiencing violence in the classroom? How do you continue to justify your assertion that incidents of this kind are rare?
MS BERRY: No, in answer to the first part of the question. No, I am not suggesting that the AEU is lying. What I am saying, though, is that critical incidents like the one that we have been discussing this week are rare. As I said, we encourage reporting of all incidents in our schools, so that we can ensure that we put the supports in place when they occur.
DR PATERSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, as construction of the critical services building continues, how is the ACT government supporting the planning and preparation for opening this new healthcare facility in 2024?