Page 3138 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 16 September 2015
the text of his motion, there is a lot of sensitivity around tabling or revealing some information. The tricky balance here is to find the right level of information to make public whilst at the same time respecting privacy. I heard Mr Doszpot rattle off a series of questions. The issue is whether all of those questions warrant a public discussion or whether it is about getting to the bottom of the systemic issues here that is most important. Personally, I think it is the latter.
This is a small town and while there is no doubt that some are aware of the school in question, we must try as much as possible in our public dissection of the circumstances to protect the identity of the child and their family. I and staff from my office have received briefings on this matter, as I understand Mr Doszpot has, and this issue of privacy is certainly something I have reflected on in the course of those conversations.
Unfortunately, I think that some of the finer points of detailed information requested by Mr Doszpot in this motion would indeed jeopardise that privacy and may also negatively impact on the internal processes of the director-general as she responds to her minister’s direction to seriously examine the actions of each and every officer who was part of the directorate’s response. That said, I believe that his questions require a response of some kind, and I certainly encourage Minister Burch to be as forthright as she can in seeking to address that. In view of the nature of the amendment and the additional information it contains, I am able to support it.
What has clearly been a key question for everyone is this: what were the antecedents to this structure being built? As the summary of the investigations report states, there appear to have been escalating circumstances prior to the decision being made by the principal. It also states that it seems that officers of the directorate may not have followed up or provided adequate support to manage these escalating circumstances. Yet we also know from the findings of the investigation that it was the sole decision of the principal and it was made with no input, consultation or approval from any of the many support services and specialist teachers or allied health experts available. On that reading and based on the minister’s recent speech, it appears that while there had been some contact between the principal and the directorate at some stage, there was no prior engagement on the construction of the cage.
In relation to the quotes requested and received related to the construction of the structure, which the Canberra Times reported on today, I am led to understand there has been information provided to Mr Doszpot via freedom of information. The question of a possible criminal charge which Mr Doszpot has raised in his motion is an understandable question and one that I had myself. I thank Ms Burch for clearing up this matter and note that there is apparently advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions that there do not appear to be any possible criminal charges to be laid.
There have also been questions related to any guidelines or protocols for the use of this completely inappropriate structure. I have been advised that, while there may have been such guidelines, they had no standing whatsoever, for you cannot countenance protocols developed in complete disregard for accepted practice or in isolation from the experts. You cannot validate guidelines for the use of something that should never have been built.