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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 October 2018) . . Page.. 4115 ..

As I have said before, teachers change lives. Their work breaks down disadvantage. It opens up life chances for children who would not ordinarily get that chance. I would like an education system that respects, supports and values the expertise of the teaching profession, and I am confident we are firmly on that path with the future of education strategy.

I thank Ms Cody for raising this very important matter in the Assembly. I am very happy to take the chance to say how much I value and support ACT teachers and thank them for the journey on which they have assisted me and my children and all other children in the ACT as they learn how to be grown-ups outside the education system and get on with their lives as decent and well-adjusted citizens of the ACT.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.08): I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about this matter of public importance this afternoon. The Greens recognise that teaching is a highly respected profession and want to take this opportunity to thank our dedicated and professional teachers for the work they do. Teachers across the ACT school system are essential for enabling the provision of a high quality, well-resourced and safe learning environment for all students.

We also acknowledge that to get the best possible education our children need the best possible teachers and great leadership from our principals. In order to ensure that we have the best possible teachers in the ACT, the government has a responsibility to maintain and improve the remuneration, conditions and career opportunities of all ACT education professionals. It is important to reflect that that is a broad group, whether it is teachers, teachers’ aides, principals and various other staff who play such important roles in our education system.

We also understand that modern schools are increasingly complex environments, and we must ensure that our teachers feel supported to effectively teach children and young people with diverse needs, including students experiencing a disability or a learning difficulty, gifted and talented students, and students at risk.

With my Minister for Mental Health portfolio responsibilities I am acutely aware of the increasing rates of distress and poor mental health we are seeing and having reported to us amongst young people. This is an emerging challenge that we need to support our teachers to deal with.

Of course, the mental health of our teachers is also something we need to be aware of with teachers often working in high stress environments and being on the frontline of dealing with difficult individual and family situations. That is why the government is continuing to invest more in youth mental health services, providing more school psychologists in our schools and working to better coordinate the pathway between our school and community mental health services.

I am very conscious of the need for that partnership. Particularly given the lengthy school breaks that occur, the school counsellor is not necessarily always available. So one of the things we need to do is make sure that there is a good pathway between school and the non-school services.

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