Page 3675 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 13 September 2017
for teachers, students and parents and to address and reduce the tensions evident in our schools. It is therefore disappointing to learn that, while the government was quick to adopt all 50 recommendations in the report, their delivery and implementation have failed to match the rhetoric.
I am sure Mr Doszpot would not be surprised at the lack of progress, because at the time he expressed concern that the government would drag its heels. I understand meetings he had with the government on progress were full of impressive flow charts, spread sheets and action indicators but were lacking in concrete, meaningful improvements.
Mr Wall has outlined the slow progress in infrastructure upgrades in our schools and the slow delivery of specialised training and support for our teachers. In the lead-up to last year’s election, Labor made much of its policy to invest $6.7 million for 20 new school psychologists. This was a key component of the report’s recommendations. It was one that the Canberra Liberals had pressed the government on for years and it was good to see the government commit to it. But, like much of what this government does, promises too often remain just that. And we are now well used to hearing excuses why things they promise have not been done.
Fast forward to the 2017 budget and we see an allocation of $327,000 this year, $633,000 next year, $677,000 in 2019-20 year and $692,000 in the 2020-21 period leading up to the next election. And even then it is $2.3 million, well short of the $6.7 million promised. The ratio of school counsellors and/or psychologists to students was dismally inadequate before the report and, at this rate of funding, it will remain that way.
The report outlined the anguish of parents of students with challenging behaviours and also parents of students who had difficulty coping with complex-needs students in their class. The report also spoke about the difficulties faced by teachers, many of whom felt they were inadequately trained to manage some of their students, some even talking of the physical threats they had faced. Indeed, as I understand it, the cage solution came about because the school saw no other support for that teacher and she felt she had no choice indeed to prevent the situation escalating out of control.
We have had the inquiry, we have had the report and we have had the promises. And I acknowledge that Minister Berry outlined some of the work that is currently underway in this space. But we do not have adoption of many of the vital recommendations that would make a real difference in our schools for students, for teachers and for Canberra families.
We presumably still have largely the circumstances that led to this alarming scenario. We do not have the suitable withdrawal spaces, we do not have the school psychologists and we do not have the support and training for teachers. But what we do have is families still needing support and not receiving it. What we do have is our teachers still lacking the appropriate support to manage some of their students.
In my role as shadow disability minister I have heard some concerning stories of how the system is failing our students and families who have children with complex needs