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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 October 2018) . . Page.. 4112 ..


some cases for months and in other cases for far longer, and that little to nothing has been done to stop them.

We may never know how much teachers have been subjected to attacks at schools. We may never know which schools or how many schools have been affected. All we know is that there have been reports and that the WorkSafe commissioner has issued an enforceable undertaking to address the serious problem.

We have heard in the past eight days that teachers in the ACT do need more support. When a student is biting a teacher, I think we can all agree that the teacher needs more support than a compression bandage, especially if these bandages are not able to heal wounds but are to act as cushioning. A prophylactic compression bandage is surely not adequate support for our ACT teachers who find themselves in such challenging situations.

There is no evidence of support for these teachers and no evidence that the teacher workplace is valued, not at the school level, not at the network level, not at the directorate level and certainly not at the ministerial level. If the minister has issued a public apology to any teacher who found themselves in these shocking circumstances, then I have not heard it, and nor has the Canberra community.

The minister only said in her media conference that a cultural change was needed. The ACT education union was little better, being quoted as saying that tackling violence against teachers would be a difficult journey. A union spokesman said that we have now fewer people in schools accepting the unacceptable. So it seems it is acceptable that the ACT government failed to protect our teachers because it is a difficult journey.

It is interesting to reflect that it was a member of the government who felt the need to bring on this MPI based on a sentiment that, in all honesty, is self-evident. It speaks volumes for the state of education in the ACT and the minister’s failure to look after the people she says she highly supports and values if we have to be reminded of the importance of supporting and valuing our teachers. Yes, Madam Deputy Speaker, the government backbench should be trying to show some support for our teachers because clearly the minister has not been able to do so.

When I visit schools—government, non-government and Catholic—I am always met with highly qualified teachers who are dedicated to their profession and to the students they teach. I am sure that there is no-one in this chamber—certainly not from the Canberra Liberals—who does not acknowledge the work they do.

It is hard to be a teacher. If you have one bad experience, you stay for the love of educating our future generation. Multiple experiences of the kind we have heard about in the media recently and no satisfactory response from a government that supposedly cares about you is certainly more than enough to make you seriously consider whether you should stay in teaching.

I am particularly pleased that Ms Cody has brought this issue to the Assembly’s attention. Teacher safety and supporting and valuing our teachers are substantial


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