The inquiry into bullying and violence within ACT schools is calling for parents, carers and teachers to come forward with their stories of school violence in an attempt to minimise and manage the growing issue.
The matter was referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs by ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry on 4 April after relentless pressure from the Opposition to launch an independent inquiry into violence in government schools.
According to the Canberra Liberals, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of reported incidents of occupational violence in the Education Directorate in the past five years.
The Opposition stated that in 2017-18 there were 2431 reported incidents of occupational violence compared to 480 in 2013-14. The latest figures were also a significant increase from 2016-17 which saw 1622 reported incidents.
A recent report also found that the ACT had the highest prevalence of school principals experiencing physical violence and threats of violence in the nation.
The Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs, which is required to complete its inquiry and table its final report by 24 October, is inviting stakeholders and the general public to contribute, with the deadline set for 16 May.
The committee said it would be looking into the “management and minimisation of bullying and violence” in government and non-government schools, and intends to hold public hearings in May 2019 to assist the Inquiry. Those interested in attending would need to make their intention clear in their written submission.
In conducting its inquiry, the Committee said it will take into account the “societal context of bullying and violence” as a whole-community issue and the Government’s existing work on responding to students with complex needs and challenging behaviours, and management of occupational violence.
The inquiry will also refer to the report of the School Education Advisory Committee which was established to look at safe and supportive schools and the petition about “violence in ACT schools” received by the Assembly on 21 March.
All submissions, whether sent electronically or handwritten, must include a name, an email address, a postal address and a telephone contact number. Personal contact details will not be published.
For further information on how to lodge a submission, click here.