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Wednesday, 10 May 1995
MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.
EDUCATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1995
MR MOORE (10.30): Mr Speaker, I present the Education (Amendment) Bill 1995.
Title read by Clerk.
MR MOORE: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
This Bill is intended to promote fairness in decisions regarding the suspension, compulsory transfer, expulsion or exclusion of students from any school in the ACT. It does not prohibit the expulsion or exclusion of students following a fair process. This Bill was originally tabled in 1992 and remained on the notice paper for 1993 and 1994 in a slightly different form.
In presenting this Bill again, I am intending to give students and their parents access to a basic right enjoyed by all in our society, outside of the defence forces, perhaps, and some independent schools - the right to appeal against a decision made by others that may have a lifelong effect on one's future. In order to achieve this, the Bill sets up a board of review, the composition of which reflects the interests of the students and the government and independent schools; in other words, an external review process that allows a relatively detached and factually-based consideration of what is often a contentious issue affected by personal perspectives and antagonisms. An important principle underlying the Bill is the idea that, by publishing the results of the review by the board, schools will be encouraged to make decisions in as fair a manner as possible.
Expulsion from a school is not a minor incident in one's life, especially if it occurs in the critical Years 11 and 12. Although I believe that the decision to expel should never be taken lightly and that in some cases it may be the only alternative left to a school, it is an action which signifies defeat; that is, the behaviour exhibited by the student has not been seen as symptomatic of a problem - either the student's or the school's - and this problem has not been dealt with. By expelling a student, the management of that school is merely shunting the problem away, unresolved.