Department of Education Director General Sharyn O’Neill has called for the community to get behind schools and prevent and reduce violence.
Her comments followed a report released today (The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey 2016) by a group of some education professional associations.
“Teachers and principals should be able to go about their jobs feeling safe,” Ms O’Neill said.
“They serve our kids, they serve our community and they shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of the social issues in society.”
Ms O’Neill said that there were 214 reported assaults* against public school principals in 2015; and four of those were by parents.
“We have request-for-assistance buttons – known as "panic buttons" – in about 100 public schools. All new public schools have them; when we upgrade security in schools we provide them,” she said.
The Director General said that, while the buttons were in about 100 schools, in the past year they were only used about four times, and there have been some false alarms as well.
“Our security team responds and calls the police in. We thank the police for their quick response times to incidents in schools,” she said.
“The issue of violence in schools is an important one. I think we need the whole community to get behind our schools – we all agree that violence is unacceptable and we want to minimise it happening on school grounds.”
*The definition of ‘assault’ used here is very broad, ranging from minor incidents to very serious matters requiring police attention.