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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 October 2018) . . Page.. 4114 ..

community in guiding them through their education journey as they turn from young people into adults.

As a government I am proud to stand on our record of valuing and supporting teachers in the ACT. I believe our record in this place is clear and very strong. As I said in my ministerial statement about releasing the future of education paper, it absolutely realised on investing and empowering learning professionals, making sure we respect our teaching profession the same way as we would respect the medical profession.

After personal factors related to a child, teachers are the most significant factor in student achievement, and school leaders have a vital role here. The government believes that teachers and school leaders are expert professionals, highly skilled at working with students and leading them on their journey.

The future of education strategy was importantly founded through a big conversation with more than 5,000 contributions including many teachers and school leaders, and it includes four foundations of focus on empowering learning professionals.

The ACT Teacher Quality Institute has been a national leader in supporting an expert teaching profession. Through the future of education strategy the government will take the TQI’s role in sharing excellent practice and contemporary research evidence even further by exploring the creation of an ACT teaching evidence clearing house. We will do this in part through supporting teachers to build knowledge in their profession through, for example, action research projects.

As Ms Cody noted, the government has also invested in supporting our teachers. Education is one of the largest budget items for our government, and a large proportion of that spending is directed to teachers because we know education is a real leveller. It does not matter where you come from; everybody is of equal value and gets an equal chance in our schools to a great education and the great life that can come out of that.

I congratulate and thank teachers in the ACT for the work they do with our children and our families. There was mention of occupational violence in schools, and it is a very important issue. Of course, I have not come to this issue inexperienced; I spent over 15 years working for unions around workplace safety, particularly in schools in relation to contract cleaning. But for teachers it is something I have taken very seriously. I took immediate action as soon as it was brought to my attention by the Australian Education Union, whose input into this work I also take very seriously. I appreciate their representation of their members in our public schools.

Everyone is entitled to be safe at work, and those who work in education are no exception. The undertaking the government gave was given voluntarily. It was entered into with WorkSafe, and WorkSafe acknowledged the government’s effort in this place. That undertaking reinforces the work already underway and already planned. This is a complex issue, and to suggest that it is not is just silly. It is complex, it is difficult, and it requires a mature response. I will continue to keep the Education Directorate focused on improving work, health and safety in schools.

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