Page 3131 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 16 September 2015

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MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Racing and Gaming and Minister for the Arts) (5.20): I welcome the opportunity to put a bit of a reality check into this debate. Last week the Director-General of the Education and Training Directorate released the outcomes of the investigation into a structure at one of our government schools. The independent investigation conducted at arm’s length from the directorate was carried out under section H6, mixed conduct and discipline of the ACT public service Education and Training Directorate agreement. That process determines the amount of information that can be released. Those opposite know that but they choose to ignore that.

I never thought that I would be standing in the courtyard early this year in April and announcing to our community that one of our schools had a structure that I described at the time as a metal structure described as a two-by-two metal fencing structure. That is a hard announcement for a minister for education to take to the community. But I took it to the community because the community needed to know.

We have now all seen the photos of the structure in question. While on one hand some may think it is important that we confront these images and acknowledge how unacceptable it was, I must on the other hand express my concern for the publication of those images. This concern is based on the impact on the child and the family. It is not one of hiding; rather, it is one of compassion for that family. I believe each time one of these images is published it re-traumatises the family and student. I ask that all in here and in the community understand and have regard for them.

The family know the outcome of the investigation. They see the investigation is now concluded and they are simply wanting the ongoing public comment to stop so that they can get on with their lives and nurture their children. In fact, an email back to you, Madam Assistant Speaker, is very clear. They say:

My friends do not deserve this matter to be continually brought up for cheap political and/or media mileage. They have been through enough already, so I ask that you please stop it.

That was in response to you reading out a statement that Mr Doszpot got confused about and you read it on behalf of Mr Doszpot. This email goes straight to you, Mr Doszpot. In that email from the family to you—Mr Doszpot is not making reference to this—they have also confirmed that they were actually quite happy with “Minister Burch’s handling of the matter today” and that they are “extremely grateful for her maintaining their anonymity”. This is what the family are wanting. Your persistence just goes to the opposite of that.

It is important that we also have regard to the impact the information has on the former principal and the school community. I take the opportunity to say to our teachers who are committed and dedicated professionals: thank you for the work that you do in our schools. Because of the images in the media that I was confronted with early in that week beginning Monday, 30 March, during a briefing with the Education and Training Directorate, I took immediate action to inform the community and

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