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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3731 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

was a small affirmative action campaign then, in certain areas, to get more women into the work force.

I am talking about the jiggling around, where a greater emphasis will be placed on getting men in. I do not think that is too hard. For example, on those figures, 45 per cent of the new hire figures would be male as opposed to 55 per cent female, even though the applications were 40-60. I think that could be done without compromising standards-and that would help.

I do not know what the current minister is doing, but I certainly recall a lot of effort being put in by senior teachers in the department. They were going around to the secondary colleges, trying to encourage students to become teachers-and there was an emphasis on trying to get good young men in.

At one of the groups I addressed here in the Assembly, it was disappointing that only three out of about 100 students in year 12 wanted to be teachers. Nevertheless, I was very pleased to see that two out of those three were young men. In talking to them later, all three applicants were very impressive-and the two young men certainly were.

There is a range of strategies the department needs to push, to try to overcome the imbalance we have at present. As both Mr Pratt and Mrs Burke say, it is a fact that it is preferable, in this day and age, for us to get as many good men into the profession as possible.

Many wonderful people come from single-parent families. It is just as important for people in single male families to have good female role models at school as it is for those in single female families to have good male role models. It depends on the family. I, too, have seen Ms Gallagher and her daughter. Before we met, my wife brought up three young children by herself, and did a fantastic job.

It is true to say that it is good to have a lot of male teachers, especially at the primary school level. Many teachers have spoken to me about this over the years. For a large number of reasons, it is not a desirable situation for a kid to go all the way through school up until, say, year 7 before having a male teacher.

Mr Pratt passed me a note about feminisation of the curriculum, which is an interesting point. Whilst no-one is saying there is anything nefarious or strange about that, I suppose it is potentially a fact that, if there are no males there, the female teachers might have a certain subconscious slant, which is fine. However, with more males there, the balance might be different.

For example, there could be too much emphasis on things like the arts. I know that, when we mandated a certain amount of time for physical education, it concerned many female teachers until they did the training courses. After that, many were incredibly enthusiastic. There may be something there. It is obviously far better if we do have a better gender balance in schools.

Turning to discipline, there might be a point there. Nevertheless, I recall some ferocious female teachers who you would never cross. There was one in particular in year 7-I became a good friend of the family-whom no-one crossed. She was a black belt in

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