Page 1378 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015
the special schools nursing arrangements, as we have already seen. This will surely only lead to more uncertainty for students, parents, nurses and teachers at these schools.
The Labor government still refuses to guarantee permanent nurses to all special schools across the ACT, which has been causing significant stress for families. The Canberra Liberals want to give families peace of mind. We are calling on the government to quarantine all special schools from the healthcare access at school program, HAAS. Minister Burch has failed not only the parents, teachers and nurses of these children but also the children themselves.
I have been calling on Minister Burch for years to take responsibility and show some leadership as Minister for Disability and minister for education and ensure a permanent solution for nurses in special schools.
It took an intervention from the former Chief Minister and health minister, Katy Gallagher, in 2011, to provide a nurse for the Woden special school, which was then the only special school without a nurse. That situation lasted until 2014, when there was a backflip and nurses were taken out of the Black Mountain and Woden schools in order to trial the HAAS arrangements that are now under review.
Now yet another backflip by Minister Burch, the minister for education and disability, has caused even more uncertainty and angst for parents and teachers, with the ACT education union claiming that after the nurses returned to Black Mountain School at the beginning of term 2, three learning assistants were told not to return to work. These learning assistants were told that they were no longer required. So while the health needs of students at the school have been met, until the government decides to change its mind again, it appears that it is at a cost to the education of other students who require extra learning assistance. It seems that the minister for education is oblivious to the requirements of students and teachers at Canberra special schools and that this government is unprepared to provide them with a reliable and consistent solution.
The Canberra Liberals recognise that this irresponsible attitude by Joy Burch, Simon Corbell and the Barr government needs to stop. (Extension of time granted.) We are calling for the government to reinstate permanent nurses to all four special schools in the ACT, with at least two nurses at Black Mountain School and one nurse at each of Woden, Cranleigh and Malkara schools, so that students with complex medical needs are not put at risk. I call on the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, to follow the example of the previous Chief Minister and intervene to bring some sanity to this stubborn approach by Minister Burch and Minister Corbell. I also call on our Greens member, Shane Rattenbury, to support this motion in the Assembly today.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell) adjourned to a later hour this day.
DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (11.40): I move: