Page 1176 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022
schools and have everybody understand what a safe, inviting and supportive school environment looks like.
That is not an easy thing to do when you have an environment surrounding the school and a culture of violence within our community that we are still trying to address as well. We have issues around domestic and family violence. We are dealing with sexual assaults in our community. We have a community that is battling away at resolving violence in all its forms, including bullying and unacceptable behaviour across our community and in our schools as well.
This issue is occurring not just in the ACT. However, the ACT is delivering on its plans and policies across our schools. The issues have been conflated, unfortunately, by COVID. There is no doubt about that. We are working with our schools through these difficult times, making sure that they feel supported, respected and valued as great learning and teaching environments for both our school staff and our school students.
MS LAWDER: Minister, how often have ACT police been called in relation to an incident in an ACT school?
MS BERRY: I do not even think I would have that advice. That might be incidents that are referred to police by individuals outside of school hours as well. I just do not think that data would be available.
MR HANSON: Minister, in what way has the critical shortage of teachers in our schools contributed to violence?
MS BERRY: The ACT is not immune to the national teacher shortage. Schools across the country are experiencing a shortage in the teaching workforce. COVID has absolutely had an impact on how our schools operate and has exacerbated the issues that might occur in our schools. We are working with the Education Union to ensure that we meet the needs of our school staff, to ensure that they are safe, keeping in mind that COVID has definitely had an impact on the teaching shortage in our schools because people, unfortunately, contract COVID and need to take time off work. That also happens in our school communities.
In those circumstances, our schools can temporarily return to remote education, for parts of a school or a whole school, where that is required. We have excellent resources in place, developed by the Education Directorate, for teachers and school staff to access and for students and their families to access during that time when they need to return to remote education temporarily.
We are managing what is an ever-changing situation that has been in place for over two years now and that has put enormous pressure on our school system. We acknowledge that, and we work very closely with them. We thank them for the incredible work that they have done over the last couple of years in moving from and back to remote education, when that has been required, under incredibly challenging circumstances. We will continue to support them to do that.