Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 13 August 2015) . . Page.. 2880 ..
and a perceived increased workload for education staff particularly for learning support assistance. In response, ACT Health reinstated two registered nurses, a level 1 and one of the existing level 2 nurses back onsite at Black Mountain School. In addition the Assembly passed a resolution in May this year in relation to the matter, and members would be familiar with that resolution.
In implementing the resolution, ACT Health, in collaboration with ETD, undertook the review of the needs of children in specialist schools and the support and care required. To ensure completeness, the scope of the review was expanded to cover all four specialist schools. The review was led by a joint governance committee of ACT Health and ETD, which initiated the formation of an industrial consultative committee, including representatives from the AEU, CPSU and ANMF. A consultation process was devised to ensure all stakeholders, which included parents, teachers and school staff, registered nurses and other ACT Health staff, had the opportunity to participate via face-to-face focus groups, completion of an online survey, structured telephone interviews and/or voluntary telephone or email feedback.
The outcomes were 144 specialist school staff, including teachers, learning support assistants, executive teachers, deputy principals and principals, attended one of four focus groups over a one-week period from 9 to 15 June. Twelve parents attended separate focus groups at the schools on the same dates following the staff consultations. The four specialist school registered nurses also attended a focus group on 29 June. Given parents of children with special needs can experience difficulty attending events, structured telephone interviews were also offered to 58 parents and 14 participated—24 per cent of the parent cohort.
Some 139 stakeholders participated in the online survey over a two-week period. Thirty per cent of these were parents, including the 14 parents who participated by telephone; 25 per cent were LSAs; 24 per cent were teaching staff, including principals, deputy principals and executive teachers; and 21 per cent were nurses, paediatricians, health and education managers. Some 38 per cent of surveyed participants also attended focus groups, and this is possibly an underrepresentation as the survey was open a week before face-to-face consultations began.
The consultation with the specialist school communities found that continuation of an onsite nurse at the specialist schools was a common theme from parents and school staff. Parents indicated they drew comfort from a nursing presence. Parents and teachers saw the role of a nurse at a school to include application of nursing knowledge and experience during first aid and unexpected health incidents and having the ability to interpret symptoms and the knowledge of all the students’ medical history and health needs. A strong theme from teachers was a need to maintain an educational focus in the classroom and issues with maintaining duty of care to all students if the teacher was required to attend to the specific health needs of one child.
Some LSAs from Black Mountain School made positive comments on LSAs undertaking health tasks under the HAAS model and commented on the improved access to offsite school excursions for students. Having a dedicated person to provide for the students’ first-aid needs had strong support: 24 per cent of survey respondents felt this could be a trained first-aid officer; 65 per cent felt this should be a nurse; and others offered a combined or team idea.