Page 1940 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 14 May 2013

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has been a significant reduction in cost resulting from vandalism, from $606,000 to $282,000. This is a reduction in cost of 53 per cent, saving the ACT taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

This is money that can be put into providing books and computers and ensuring that we have the best teachers. It is money that can be used to deliver on the excellence in education that the ACT is renowned for. And we will continue to work closely with the school executives and the AFP to assess and discuss strategies to improve school security and further reduce the incidence of vandalism at school sites.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, how important is it to keep our schools free from vandalism?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Berry for her question. Vandalism not promptly dealt with at a school invariably leads to further vandalism at the school and within the local community. It may be perceived that, if acts of vandalism are not dealt with in a timely manner, it is socially acceptable to vandalise buildings in the area. This has wide-ranging implications for the public perception of the school community.

Vandalism at schools can disrupt the teaching and learning environment for students and staff. It is an ACT government priority that students and staff have a safe and secure environment to achieve the best educational and social outcomes possible. A safe environment improves students’ engagement with, and success in, learning. Staff and students should be able to attend school without the disruption that vandalism can cause. Community groups should also be able to enjoy the benefits of a vandal-free school. Many organisations hire school facilities to run their programs.

Security fencing also supports schools in student management and supervision, reducing the risk of students leaving school grounds without permission and providing schools with greater control over their grounds and facilities. While there has been significant reduction in the level of vandalism in schools where fences have been installed, it is recognised that school fences are just a mechanism in combating vandalism in schools.

The importance of strong partnerships with the school community is a primary control mechanism that cannot be understated. Getting the balance right between the physical security of school sites and community use and engagement requires site-by-site consideration which is determined at the school level in consultation with their community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, what have been the types of vandalism we have seen in the past?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Porter for her question. Vandalism, unfortunately, is something that occurs in schools, but what we have seen here now and what I have just spoken about is the reduction in that. Vandalism could be considered minor

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