Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 June 2022) . . Page.. 1508 ..
As a workforce comprised primarily of women, considerations must also be paid to the gender dynamics of this situation. There is no doubt in my mind that structural inequality is bearing down upon our teacher shortage and steps must be taken to support the lives of workers in our system. With proper federal funding, we could provide support to teachers with caring responsibilities, ensuring that teachers with their own children, who they need to look after, do not find that a barrier to educating and working with other young people in our public schools. We can and should ensure that early childhood education is publicly funded and universally accessible as well.
We can and should ensure that our public mental health systems are well funded and universally accessible. I do not think it would shock anybody to say that some of the challenging situations we have seen in the media and politicised by the Canberra Liberals at some of our public schools have a root cause in wealth and income inequality and the ongoing challenge of managing our community’s mental health. We can and should ensure that government policy developed in this space is bold, evidence based and delivered by expert public servants. The issues in our schools are intersectional with issues that are across our society. We must all be committed to practical, work-based solutions to teacher shortages, but we must also be attuned to these bigger structural forces at play and create solutions to tackle them too.
I look forward to working closely with schools in my electorate and across Canberra, the Australian Education Union ACT Branch, the ACT government and the minister to ensure that we are considering this issue from all angles and at all levels. I thank Mr Hanson for this practical motion and I look forward to discussing this matter further in the Assembly, no doubt.
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (3.36): Well, Mr Assistant Speaker Pettersson, I think you would agree that it is seldom that I am delighted in this place, but I am today. And I would genuinely like to thank Mr Davis and Ms Berry for their contributions to the debate and the support of the motion. I think that the amendment is fine. As Mr Davis said, it is very minor, and it is to the “notes”. There is nothing in it that is in any way problematic. It broadly used the same “notes”, but it is slightly differently written on a couple of points.
I think it is fabulous that this body of work is going to be done. I was expecting a response that would whitewash the motion. This amendment is not doing that. It will help us progress what I think we all want to see here, which is more teachers on the ground in our public schools. I am thankful that the minister acknowledges that there is a problem; I think we all do. I accept that there is going to be a different interpretation of why that problem has arisen. I will probably point more to the hand of the ACT government, the minister will point elsewhere and so on. That is fine. That is the political discourse that we are going to have in this place—and, to an extent, perhaps that does not matter as much as what we now do.
We find ourselves with a position which we all agree on. We have the Liberal Party, the Labor Party and the Greens all agreeing on the current state of the system and that there is a problem. We acknowledge it and we need to work together with teachers on the frontline, with the union and with all the stakeholders—parents and citizens