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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4270 ..

miss proper articulation of the key players in education—students, schools, parents and communities. It is about people, Mr Barr. This is a wake-up call. This is about people.

The truth is that there can be no proverbial education revolution if students do not attend class. The government must provide greater support to their principals in keeping students at school. Perhaps then measures like Principal Thompson tried to initiate would not be necessary. It is unnerving that the government’s response, through a four-minute radio interview and a 174-word editorial, can get the ball rolling in demolishing a school principal of what is a vibrant school community. It is reassuring that the public sentiment is primarily in support of Principal Thompson.

Yet it begs to be asked: is this ACT Labor’s vision of school-based management where principals are given autonomy but are publicly reprimanded for being human rights offenders when trying to enforce discipline in their schools? Less far-fetched, are they to be autonomously accountable for enforcing discipline yet be expected to do this without proper financial, organisational and legal support?

Seen in this context, Principal Thompson did not go out on a limb with what he did. Instead, he was put out on a limb by the minister. As such, this motion calls on the minister to express his support for Principal Thompson of Lanyon high school and all ACT principals and teachers in addressing truancy problems. Again, it is with the hope that this minister for education shows some leadership and maturity on this issue. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.35): I thank Mr Doszpot for bringing forward this motion today. Addressing the issue of truancy and the need for all students to attend school is of course vital in ensuring all students in the ACT obtain the best possible educational outcomes. Truancy affects the educational outcomes of students. Truancy and absenteeism are difficult issues that require to be addressed by significant efforts from students, parents, teachers and the community.

In part (a) of Mr Doszpot’s motion he refers to the policy adopted by the Council of Australian Governments in April 2009 and passed in the Legislative Assembly of the ACT in November 2009. This change to the ACT Education Act requires that all young people until the age of 17 years are involved in education, training or employment.

In supporting these changes to the ACT Education Act in November 2009, I indicated that it was clear from the concerns raised by those dealing with young people in this age bracket that the broader implications of this change needed to be considered. In briefings we were given at the time by the ACT Department of Education and Training, the officers indicated that there were significant challenges with those who do not comply with the requirement in the act around learning or earning. A significant number of students—between 100 and 400 students—were missing from school on a daily basis. It was anticipated that this number may increase for those older students remaining in school under the new arrangements.

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