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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3159 ..

information on the tender processes and only when finally cornered in the Assembly a prospective tender date was forthcoming. Both organisations have now provided a temporary reprieve until December. We hope that they will be able to continue providing their vital services in the ACT well into the years to come.

Again, I frame my statements with the fact that this budget is low on people investment. This is also apparent on the issues of safety in schools. The government boasted that since a safe school suite of policies was introduced, critical incidents involving violence fell from 75 incidents to 29 incidents in 2008-9, and this year to 15 incidents.

According to the government, there is a set of clear guidelines for schools to handle violent attacks at schools. These were called the critical incident guidelines. It is typical of the portfolios under the minister. They look impressive on the surface but scratch a little deeper and the true picture is more apparent. As it turns out, the critical incident guidelines do not refer to violence at schools but, in the government’s words, to “an incident, or series of incidents, which result in significant disruption to a school’s normal working day”. They may require police attention. It may be an emergency. The school may go into lockdown or the school may be evacuated because of a major leak. Those are all classified as critical incidents.

It is distressing that the government equivocates on violent attacks and major leaks. It is even more distressing that the government did not mention anything about the security arrangements in a schools framework, which is supposed to address school safety issues. Perhaps this was an oversight in the heat of the moment, but what does this say about the minister’s position on school safety?

Even more, what does it say about the government’s own confidence in their own school security framework? Consequently, returning to the issue of critical incidents, disregarding incidents like major leaks and such, there were 10 violent attacks reported in ACT schools between January to March this year in comparison to five incidents over the same months in 2009. Altogether, while critical incidents may be decreasing, violence in schools has increased.

Appealing to the minister’s sense of decorum with regard to policy making, I am sure the minister and his spin doctors can come up with a few media releases if he is to introduce CCTVs at schools. There is already an ACT government CCTV program and there is a government code of practice for CCTVs. So why has it taken so long for this added protection for our children to be implemented in our ACT schools?

As it stands, Canberrans are left with footing ACT Labor’s legacy project in light of robust territory revenues in the last few years. In the minister’s education portfolio he has identified creating economies of scale, efficiencies in functions like ICT and cleaning contracts. In essence, the minister intends to introduce larger, whole-of-government contracts as opposed to individual school-based contracts. The minister stated: “We would be looking to move to a cluster-based model—so a series of regions. We would, in fact, put out larger contracts rather than individual school-based contracts, as has been the case.”

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