Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 May 2022) . . Page.. 1174 ..
Getting an education in a safe, secure environment is a basic right for every child. It is not a right that all children in Canberra have right now.
Escalating violence in schools is a direct result of an underlying teacher shortage.
The Calwell High School incident follows an Assembly committee report on school violence from 2019, the Australian Principals’ Occupational Health and Wellbeing survey of 2021, multiple reports in the media, and advice from the Australian Education Union last year. Now one ACT school has been closed by Worksafe ACT and five are being investigated. Minister, why isn’t every child in the ACT enjoying the basic right of a safe, secure education?
MS BERRY: I thank Mr Hanson for the question. Members will know that over 50,000 students in the ACT attend Canberra public schools, which are primarily safe and supportive learning environments. We have implemented a number of plans and policies in the ACT over the last couple of years to improve the environment in our schools, including the implementation of Positive Behaviour for Learning, an international and nationally proven program of culture change within our schools to ensure safe schools, free from bullying and violence.
However, there will be circumstances, and there has been in recent months a serious circumstance in one of our public schools. We are working with that school community and all our school communities to continue to ensure that students who come to our schools are safe and that it is a safe workplace for teachers and school staff as well.
MR HANSON: Minister, how many serious incidents have occurred at ACT schools since you have been minister?
MS BERRY: I do not have that level of detail on me today. I will take it on notice and if it can be provided, I will provide that to the Assembly. However, I would note that—as Mr Hanson has rightly pointed out—there has been a number of inquiries in this space. The Education Directorate is implementing nation-leading policies and plans around occupational violence within our schools. We are working very closely with WorkSafe, and with the school staff and their unions to ensure that they are safe places for our staff and that they are safe places for our school students.
MR PARTON: Minister, why have your actions failed to the point that a school has been closed and another five are being investigated?
MS BERRY: No, they have not failed. There are nation-leading and internationally works to ensure that our schools are as safe as they possibly can be.
Opposition members interjecting—