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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4199 ..

MR CORBELL: I do not know if Mr Pratt understands the concept of a shortage-

Members interjecting-

MR SPEAKER: Order, members!

MR CORBELL: If you have this many positions and only this many staff, you cannot fill all those positions, Mr Pratt. It is called a shortage, Mr Pratt. There are not enough people, Mr Pratt. That is the reason, Mr Speaker.

School counsellors

MS TUCKER: My question is to the minister for education and it relates to the review of counselling services in ACT schools and colleges, and in particular to concerns that have been expressed by the Australian Guidance and Counselling Association in regard to the retraining of teachers to become school counsellors. I understand that the minister has received a letter and has been in contact with the Australian Guidance and Counselling Association, and that their concerns are that basically with this new training scheme you can have a situation where people are being put into a job that they are not equipped for and that this is ignoring serious consequences for students that may result from having undertrained and undersupervised people doing a highly responsible and sensitive job. Can the minister explain how she is responding to these concerns?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Tucker for the question. Yes, I have received a letter from the counselling association and I actually signed the letter of response back to them last week, I think from memory. I think there was a misunderstanding. Certainly, once they had written to me, I made some inquiries of the department. The counselling training that is being offered does not enable those teachers to be employed as counsellors in schools. Currently, a counsellor in a school has to have a teaching background but also, I believe, a psychology qualification in order to be a school counsellor. This retraining opportunity was part of progressing some of the outcomes of the review, which I think I have said before was about providing multidisciplinary teams within schools to provide support to students. Part of that is youth workers in schools. But a part of that is also to have some teachers trained-additional to their current training, to their bachelor of education-with a specific focus on counselling. But they would not be official school counsellors; they would just have an additional bit of professional development.

From my reading of the letter from the association, perhaps that information had not been relayed to them, and when they were looking at the ad that went in the paper they believed-and probably quite rightly-that we were training school counsellors in six months, which is not what is occurring. But I have relayed that back to the association.

MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Do you think you might need to look at how the relationship and the consultation are occurring, given that the issue was brought to the working party meeting after an advertisement had already been placed on the departmental intranet, which advised of the new training opportunities.

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