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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2010) . . Page.. 2416 ..


MS HUNTER: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, what are the particular safety issues being raised by students?

MR BARR: Most particularly and of great prevalence in recent times have been issues around cyberbullying and the use of new technologies, the sorts of bullying that can occur through the use of mobile phones, through filming particular incidents and circulating that material in social networking environments such as MySpace or Bebo or Facebook. Certainly, that has been an issue at the senior secondary end of the equation.

Some of the other challenges, particularly in our high schools, certainly related to the interactions of older students who are not actually enrolled at the school, so people coming on to the campus. That has been a particular issue of concern and a challenge for schools in terms of how to monitor across a physically large campus people who are coming in who are not actually meant to be at the school at all. There have been some incidents in the last 12 to 24 months where the origins clearly relate to a neighbourhood or family dispute that has been brought into the school grounds.

One of the ways to address that has been through the government’s policy of having to fence school campuses. That certainly has meant that the number of access and egress points within a school campus has been restricted, which provides a greater level of security not only for the school buildings but for the students themselves.

It is an unfortunate reflection upon where our society is at at the moment that it is necessary to have such extensive fencing arrangements for our schools, but it would appear on the available evidence that they are effective in protecting the school buildings and also in protecting students.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Porter, a supplementary question?

MS PORTER: Minister, can you confirm that restorative justice practice is one of the methods used in some of our schools to assist young people to feel safer at school?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for the question. Undoubtedly, restorative justice practices and restorative practices have been an important element in the range of responses that individual schools have. I know there are a number of schools in the ACT that have very successfully adopted these practices. I know Ms Porter’s ongoing interest in this particular area of policy; it is one which she has championed over all her time in this place.

It is pleasing to see that across a range of ACT schools in a range of different settings—government and non-government, primary school level, high school level and college level—these practices have been successful in addressing some of the issues that occur, as I said, as a result of 65,000 young people interacting on a daily basis.

I think another important measure that is worth noting has been the agreement in this place, finally, in relation to suspension powers for principals. To have had that agreement to enable principals to take that initial responsibility has been an important


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