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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3732 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

karate and a brown belt in judo. About 5 foot tall, Mrs Hillier was a charming woman, a brilliant teacher, fluent in a few languages-and you would never cross her. Conversely, I have known male teachers whose discipline has been absolutely shocking. I suppose one cannot stereotype in that regard. A number of teachers say that a good balance in a school helps in all sorts of ways.

I think this is a very good motion. It is important that, first and foremost, we encourage good young people of whatever gender-and, might I say, in these days good older people too. Let us not forget that there are a few people coming into teaching in their 50s and 60s. Ms Gallagher might be starting to meet them now-I certainly did. Maybe that is a way to get a few more men in. Some people who come into teaching have retired from another career. They have wonderful qualifications, excellent skills, and slot naturally into being brilliant teachers.

I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of teachers who came in in their 50s-one male and one female. They were incredibly valued by their school because of the great skills they possessed, the way they related to the kids and the way they brought their life experiences to bear. It was excellent. There are a number of avenues the government needs to look at to ensure we get the best people for the job-and utilise those for certain areas where we need a greater gender balance than is presently the case.

I commend Mrs Burke for bringing on this motion. It is timely. I believe there are measures we can adopt. People denigrate the teaching profession. Despite that, one thing which has always impressed me about teaching is that it is one of the few professions where, if you do a good job, 10, 20 or 30 years down the track, you will have lots of people bumping into you in the street saying, "Hello"-Ms so-and-so or Mr so-and-so-"you taught me in X. Thanks for what you did."

That I think is worth heaps. Teaching is one of the professions where you can really get satisfaction if you do your job well. For a lot of young people, that is not a bad selling point. It is something which resonates with many young people. Those are the points I wish to make on this timely debate.

MS TUCKER (4.34): I will make just a few comments on the important question of gender imbalance. We would all like to see something closer to gender balance in education, on the boards of major companies, in the armed forces, in ITC industry and in the community sector.

It has been argued that, if we substantially increase the salaries and improve the working conditions of everyone in the education work force, then more men would be interested in working in that field. While the Greens are all in favour of improving resources, conditions, and status for all of our most essential human services, such as those who work in the front line of health and education, I do not think we should do that merely because it would attract more men. We should ensure that the importance of the work is reflected in, among other things, the pay they earn. It is as simple as that.

One of the consequences of a market economy such as ours is that many people earn a very high income to enable them to look after only themselves, while others, on whom others depend, lead considerably harder lives. While a number of us aspire to changing that arrangement, that is probably a project for the long haul.

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