Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 March 2005 2005) . . Page.. 729 ..
police in the community about juvenile violence, they are concerned that they do not get enough of an entree into schools, to intervene early to perhaps solve a problem in a school but also to solve a problem in the broader community.
When I had the shadow education portfolio, a lot of issues were bought to my attention. I specifically recall two such problems—one at a Woden Valley school and one at a Tuggeranong Valley school where there were some quite serious issues of violence, where the sons of ambassadorial staff had to be taken to hospital and in those cases the schools declined to call in the police.
What programs have been put in place? Yes, there are bullying programs in place and some of those programs are quite effective, but they are not consistently applied—not all schools consistently apply those programs. DET and the government do not ensure that all of the schools in the ACT take the opportunity to take on those programs. That is where the government is failing in terms of this insidious concern that we have, this growing threat, this growing trend in schools of violence and bullying and, related to that, the management of drugs.
Not all schools apply these programs but the government has a duty of care to families, as well as to the community, to exact good academic standards and ensure that schools are safe and valued educational institutions, and to make sure that those programs are properly applied. That is not the case. I have questioned—in fact six times now in three years in this place—the veracity of those programs, whether those programs have been consistently applied and I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that they are not.
Do teachers have enough power in the role that they have to play in the disciplinary process? I think Dr Foskey made a good point in that the responsibility also lies with parents. Are schools and indeed other government departments, where government departments also have a role to play, getting hold of and involving parents in the process of sorting out some of these bullying incidents? I do not think they are and I do not think we are bringing together the parents who have got a problem to sort out with kids who are routinely performing acts of violence and bullying. Everybody in the broader community, including the police, youth workers, teachers and principals ought to be involved in solving this problem.
When I have spoken before in this place, I have commended the Victorian PISP program. The program sees police being invited into schools to talk to students at the year 5 level and above—the middle schooling level, which I think is particularly important. The police are invited in to teach the kids about community safety and a whole range of emergency safety issues. At the same time, they teach the kids about bullying and about violence. They teach the kids about respect—about how to respect each other and how to respect authority. That is where it has got to start. I will bet you, Mr Speaker, that we have very few communities inviting their community based police into their schools. Community based policing means exactly that: a much more positive relationship between local police and schools. We do not see that, and we need to see that.
We need to see stronger intervention by police at the time there is the potential for juvenile crime, and that means a stronger marriage between police and schools and other departments in response to these sorts of concerns. A very small minority of our youth