Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 December 2021) . . Page.. 3986 ..
to come and work in ACT public schools—a teacher who is no longer working in a non-government school, based on the discriminatory practices that she alleged she faced. These are not things you would face working in an ACT public school. These are not things that you would face working for the ACT government. I echo the calls from the Chief Minister, using that bully pulpit of the national platform, to encourage people to apply for vacant positions.
I also want to focus heavily on the teacher shortage task force. To be fair to Mr Hanson and the Canberra Liberals, I probably would have had a lot more time for this motion—in fact, I probably could have written it—if not for some of the work the government is already doing, which is completely absent from the original drafting of the motion, including the teacher shortage task force. As the minister points out, the ACT is the only subnational government in the country engaged in such deliberative conversations with teachers, the union and the sector to try and identify challenges to recruiting and retaining quality teaching staff and to try and work out how we can get people.
It is very simple for me to get up in here and say we should just pay them more. Of course, that is a part of it. You do not need to take my word for it, Mr Deputy Speaker. You can see the survey yourself. I trust that it was delivered to your office, as it was to mine, in this term’s copy of ACT Educator from the union. I trust that all members read it every single term when it comes out. I know that I do. You will notice that the union cites a number of ongoing challenges for them, not just about pay but about work safety, workload and the training and professional development within the profession.
I would like to read verbatim from parts of the survey. As a proud unionist myself and a progressive parliamentarian, I always prefer the voices of working people over my own. This is what the union had to say directly, in conclusion and to summarise their report:
The results of this survey have brought into stark relief what members have been saying for some time: ACT public schools need urgent help. The staffing shortage has revealed systemic issues that require more than a superficial solution. It is not simply enough to recruit more teachers into the ACT public education system. The system must also retain those we already have, support them with adequate infrastructure, time for non face-to-face work, provide relief so they can take time off when they’re unwell, protect them from violence and the psychosocial safety hazard of extreme stress and make sure their pay and overall conditions reflect their essential work.
We know that the ACT community values public education and our members who work within it. We need more than platitudes; we need real support and action. These problems will require sustained, resource-intensive, evidence-based and systemic problem solving. It will not be easy, but it is necessary. To ignore these issues is to abandon the value of public education. Our union will never tolerate this.
If the terms of reference were not already written for the teacher shortage task force, that would be a tremendous start. That is a tremendous start. The union, in their own