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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (23 May) . . Page.. 1670 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

It was disturbing to the committee to hear that fighting among schoolgirls was becoming more prevalent, and at least one high school principal put that down to what was described as a gladiator mentality promoted by television. The widespread prevalence of sexual harassment in our high schools may also be related to the increase in explicit sex in many of the television programs that the students watch. They are screened at teenage viewing times. What young people see on television often becomes an accepted way of life.

Where our education systems falls down is in the area of discrimination. Somehow we have to find the resources to ensure that all children at all schools have the same opportunity to receive non-discriminatory and equal levels of education. There is ample evidence that that is not happening at the moment. It is obvious that there are disadvantaged school communities out there, and that is a real problem that has to be addressed by this parliament.

The worst thing we can do, Mr Speaker, is sweep violence under the school carpet. Violence in our schools is a reality. What we have to do is develop appropriate measures to combat its prevalence, because of the effects it is having on our education system and its cost to the community in general. Young people need role models, and in today's society that frequently comes from outside the school and the home. Perhaps that is the trend we have to change. The solution is in providing a non-violent and non-discriminatory environment inside and outside our schools. Mr Speaker, I commend to members of this parliament the report presented by the standing committee on prevention of violence in schools and the recommendations contained therein.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak) adjourned.

Paper and Statement

MR OSBORNE (12.38): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table a letter I received and to make a very brief statement on that letter.

Leave granted.

MR OSBORNE: The letter I wish to table here today, Mr Speaker, is one that was delivered to me by Dr David McNicol, an orthopaedic surgeon at Woden Valley Hospital. The letter basically has been written in defence and in response to an incident which was reported in the Canberra Times. A young rugby league player by the name of Michael Cole, whilst playing rugby league a few weeks ago, on 27 April, injured himself and broke his neck. He was referred, firstly, to Queanbeyan Hospital and then on to Woden Valley Hospital.

Mr Speaker, on Tuesday I had a very lengthy and at times heated discussion with Dr McNicol about this incident. I said to Dr McNicol that I would be prepared to table a letter from him in response to what happened with Michael Cole at the hospital. Mr Speaker, I respect the fact that Dr McNicol is an expert in the field, if not the expert in this field in Canberra, and I do not intend to dispute what he has had to say.

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