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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1939 ..


Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 11.57 am to 2.00 pm.

Questions without notice

Education—staff welfare

MS LEE: My question is to the minister for education. The Canberra Times on 20 June quoted from a budget submission to the ACT government from the ACT branch of the Australian Education Union, AEU. In the submission, it is claimed that the high level of workplace injuries of teachers and other staff in government schools caused by chronic staff shortages and infrastructure problems has led to poor student behaviour, including occupational violence. The AEU is asking you to provide data on the severity of the government teacher shortage in the ACT. Minister, is the AEU correct when it says that ACT government schools have chronic staff shortages?

MS BERRY: No, I am not advised that that is the case. However, I will acknowledge that there is a teaching shortage across the country and Canberra has not been immune to that. There is a need to recruit more teachers here in the ACT but also across the whole country. The ACT government, through the Education Directorate and working with the Australian Education Union, is working on a strategy about how we ensure that teachers want to work in government schools here in the ACT. Part of that work is acknowledging that there are great industrial arrangements here in the ACT, and teachers in the ACT remain the highest paid in the country. In addition to that, changes to teacher employment in the ACT are lower. It is not a five-year turnover in teaching in the ACT as it is in the country; we have a much better attrition rate here in the ACT.

But we do need to do some more work. That is why we are working closely with the Australian Education Union to ensure that our teaching profession chooses ACT government schools.

MS LEE: Minister, is the AEU correct when it says that staff shortages lead to poor student behaviour, including occupational violence?

MS BERRY: I think you would have to consider the context of the comments that the Australian Education Union is making. Of course, staff shortages would make a difference to student behaviour in schools. That is why the ACT government works closely with the Australian Education Union to ensure that we have a strategy in place that recruits teachers here in the ACT, respects and values the work that they do, and supports them when they work in ACT government schools, and we maintain that they remain the highest paid in the country, and Canberra public schools are a great place to work.


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