Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 October 2018) . . Page.. 4146 ..
training for staff, a review of risk management processes, support for learning support assistants to undertake a certificate IV at CIT in education support, and new sensory spaces in schools, just to list a few. I am very pleased to see that the directorate will also take its experience and learnings and provide forums for educators to help grapple with incidents of occupational violence. The lessons being learned in the ACT should be shared nationally to help reduce the incidence of violence.
The Education Directorate will also work with the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations to deliver workshops that contribute to the building of strong and safe communities for learning. The workshops focus on ensuring the safety of staff, students and families and meeting the diverse range of student academic and wellbeing needs. This community-wide approach also echoes what we heard in the future of education conversations about engagement and creating positive school communities.
The minister has publicly stated many times that she has committed to support school staff to be safe and confident in doing what they are most passionate about, which is teaching our students. We should be proud of our approach to inclusion and equity in schools, and we are meeting the challenges of occupational violence in schools.
MS LEE (Kurrajong) (11.04): I know everyone in this chamber was shocked at the news that WorkSafe had been forced to intervene to restore and protect the safety of staff in our schools. I would like to think that everyone in this chamber was equally appalled that it has taken two years for this investigation to be completed, that it took the minister over 12 months before she managed to get a policy plan in place—a plan, I might add, that we have no evidence yet is working. And I had hoped that everyone in this chamber would be just as appalled that at no time has the minister offered an apology to our teachers for her abject failure to ensure a safe working environment for them and obviously for students also potentially in harm’s way in our schools.
Unions in all professions talk passionately about the rights of workers to return home safely each night after a day’s labour, and it is an absolute and important right in our modern society. But for the minister to dismiss these shocking findings by saying, as she did yesterday in answer to a question and again just now—and backed by Mr Rattenbury—that dealing with staff being repeatedly attacked in their classrooms is a difficult thing to manage because of human rights implications is mind-numbing. To suggest that human rights are under challenge if a staff member needs to take reasonable steps to make sure a kindergarten student does not bite them, because that is part of the child’s right to a decent education, is beyond belief. Yes, it is a human right for every child to access a decent education in the ACT. It is not a human right for any child to attack and bite a teacher at any time. And it is a breach of human rights for a teacher to be subject to violent attacks in a classroom time and again.
The lack of action by the minister, who we now know was aware of this sort of thing, is equally beyond belief, and there can be no acceptable explanation for it, no acceptable explanation for the lack of action by the directorate and no explanation for the lack of action by the union, whose primary task is to represent their members and make sure they are working in a safe environment. They must have known teachers