Question: School Safety

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 15:03 ): My question is to the Minister for Education and Child Development. What steps is the government going to take to provide a safer environment for teachers and students in our classrooms given the increase in assaults on teachers by students, from 231 in 2012 to 549 in 2015? 

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE ( Port AdelaideMinister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (15:04): I am very happy to discuss this issue. The member for Morialta, in fact, was reasonably useful in an interview yesterday on the radio, when he reminded the listeners of something else that we do that I hadn't yet got to. I found that helpful, but they didn't come back to me for me to thank him. 

There is an apparent increase at least in the reported levels of assault in our schools. It is always difficult to be entirely clear whether that is about better reporting because we have vastly improved the ways in which reporting is done. At the same time, my instinct is that it's likely that there are indeed more incidents, given that we are seeing increasing levels of complexity in our communities and that that is reflected in our Families SA work also. 

There are, as members would be aware, a number of ways in which the department responds to this currently. There are exclusions and suspensions of students. There is the involvement of police, when that is deemed to be appropriate. When students are suspended or excluded, they are required to go into a development plan or behaviour management plan. When we are dealing with very young children, of course, it is extremely important that we try to work to get them onto a different path so that that does not become the dominant feature of their future. As they get older, that becomes increasingly challenging. 

We have a number of centres where students who have difficult behaviours are sent. I won't recite information that is publicly and widely available. We do have a broad range of responses, but we are constantly looking for more. It is not acceptable that teachers are placed in dangerous situations, and we will continue to work on improving their conditions.