Page 1874 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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I would also like to acknowledge the whistleblower protections for people raising concerns with the registrar and then on to the registration standards advisory board. As we know from the many high-profile whistleblower cases in Australia in recent years, those who name the problem can often be treated as the problem. These measures will encourage community members to feel safe in coming forward about problems that they see on the ground and in our schools.

We in the ACT Greens want to ensure that all students are supported to develop to their full potential and, of course, that includes students living with a disability. I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations for their dedicated work in engagement with government and my office to improve equity and inclusion in schools, as well as the safety and wellbeing of all of Canberra’s students.

I would like to echo the sentiments from the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations in welcoming the additional protections the amendments offer to students, especially those with disabilities or differing learning needs. It concerns me greatly to hear from the P&C association that students with disabilities are over-represented in suspensions and exclusions from school. As the P&C wrote in their response to the amendments:

Unfortunately, it is still common for us to hear of experiences where a student’s individual learning plan or behavioural management plan is not implemented well, where modifications which are designed to assist that student are not in place. This means that a student may lack the support or environment needed for them to be able to comply with what is expected and possible for that student.

We do know that the implementation of this legislation will require increased resourcing for the Education Directorate, and the ongoing under-resourcing of teachers in our schools is a challenge that the government is continuing to work through.

During the 2020 election the ACT Greens committed to holistically ensuring that we put public education first by properly funding teachers and supporting programs that students need. With the new federal government, I am hoping we may start to see some broader reforms which seek to address the ever-changing environment of our education system nationally. Nonetheless, to strengthen the reporting of under-enrolments, terminations of contracts, transfers, expulsions and exclusions by all schooling sectors is a move towards ensuring that our government has increased oversight towards and support for any issues that arise in our ACT public schools.

In doing this, these amendments bring the ACT more into line with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. These principles aim to create a culture that adopts strategies and takes action to promote child wellbeing and prevent harm to children and young people. A child-safe environment, according to these national principles, is to create an environment where children’s safety and wellbeing is the centre of thought, values and actions. It places emphasis on genuine engagement with and valuing of children and creates conditions that reduce the likelihood of harm to children and young people, creating conditions that increase the likelihood of

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