Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (4 December) . . Page.. 4350 ..
MR MOORE (10.31): Mr Speaker, I present the Schools Authority (Amendment) Bill 1996.
Title read by Clerk.
MR MOORE: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
This is the first of two pieces of legislation that deal with corporal punishment in our schools. The question that these pieces of legislation raise is: What sort of society do we want? What sort of society do members in this Assembly wish to take responsibility for? The basic structure of our society is that we teach by example. We teach by example from those who are leaders in our society, as in the case of each and every member of this Assembly. We teach by example in families. We teach by example in schools, and generally throughout society. Outside the home, the schools are the most important setting for the socialisation of children. Children spend over a thousand hours each year in the school environment. We look to schools - in fact, we expect schools - to complement the family and to instil appropriate social values in our children.
This legislation also takes a lead from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and I shall read from Article 19 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a signatory and, as such, every member here has a responsibility in terms of that convention. On this issue it is unequivocal. It says:
States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence -
that is the critical part as far as I am concerned today -
injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
This international convention is unequivocal. It says that we "shall" - and each member knows the significance of that - "take all appropriate legislative measures to protect the child from all forms of physical violence". I believe that we have no choice but to support this legislation. Schools are well placed to promote non-violent values, non-violent means of conflict resolution, and to instil non-violent behaviour patterns to work towards a more non-violent society. In speaking to the legislation in front of us, I will also be speaking to the Education (Amendment) Bill, which I will introduce in a few minutes, and then I will speak quite specifically to the clauses in each.