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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 October 2018) . . Page.. 4143 ..


Ms Lee asked why the education sector is exposed to so much violence. That is an important question. Certainly from my experience, the integration of students with behavioural difficulties into the mainstream school environment does mean that there are students with behavioural issues more commonly in our mainstream schools. I think there is a tension there, because there is clear recognition that having those students integrated into our schools can produce significant positives, both for those students and their families and also for other students, who learn a great deal about diversity, who are exposed to challenging situations, and who, in my experience, are incredibly empathetic to and supportive of having those students in their environments.

Ms Lee also asked why initiatives like sensory gardens are necessary. Sensory gardens are a specific response, recognising ways of positively supporting students, as are a range of other measures that have been put in place.

To not hear one single suggestion about what should be done differently is disappointing. I know—as outlined in the WorkSafe report, which Ms Lee has a copy of—that there have been extensive efforts to address these problems. But they are wicked problems. They are not easy to solve. That is why we will be supporting the minister’s amendment to Ms Lee’s motion, to provide the full context of this issue—

Opposition members interjecting

MR RATTENBURY: That is the recognition that occupational violence is found to be an issue and that work is being done to address it. It is very easy to walk into this place and give a sarcastic speech that makes all sorts of snide remarks about the problems and actually wants members to be ashamed and embarrassed. That is what Ms Lee asked for; she asked for people to be ashamed and embarrassed but did not provide a single positive solution in response.

I heard the little comments that were made when I said that the Greens will be supporting the amendment. We take this seriously. We recognise that there is an issue of occupational violence. We want it to be resolved as well as it possibly can be. But we also have to be honest in recognising the significant effort that has been put in, both by the directorate, with a contribution from the union, who have been actively involved in trying to work on this problem, and by individual staff. This is a very, very difficult space, and we need to be fair in our comments in recognising the nature of this challenge.

While I absolutely support—and I do absolutely support—Ms Lee’s desire for transparency and reporting on progress on this issue, there are existing reporting mechanisms which will allow for adequate scrutiny. I think it is important that the minister comes back to the Assembly to report on the conclusion of the process so that both this Assembly and the Canberra community can have confidence that each item has been followed through. This requirement is included in the amendment. And, of course, there will be ample opportunities along the way, at things like annual report hearings and in this chamber, for members to ask questions about specific measures if they want to. Come in and ask those questions: “Has such and such a particular


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