Violence in schools and suspensions remain unacceptably high

Tasmanian Labor

The number of physical assaults and acts of violence against both students and staff in Tasmanian schools remains unacceptably high under the Gutwein Government and Education Minister Sarah Courtney.

Shadow Education Minister Josh Willie said data released by the government shows the number of physical abuse incidents of another student in schools has continued to spiral with 1,774 in 2020, with the highest numbers of suspensions across Grades Seven to Nine.

Additionally, Mr Willie said there were 267 incidents of physical abuse of a teacher or other school staff member.

Mr Willie said it was also extremely concerning that last year there were 46 suspensions for harassment or stalking of another student and 14 for the bullying or stalking or harassment of a teacher.

“The number of incidents of violence against other students, teachers and staff remains worryingly high despite the COVID lockdown last year which meant students were participating in remote learning,” Mr Willie said.

“The fact that so many students and teachers are on the receiving end of violence and the level of anti-social behaviour is unacceptable.

“Tasmania’s schools should be safe learning places where both students and teachers should feel supported and should have an opportunity to thrive.

“Everybody understands it is not possible to prevent all incidents across all schools, but it’s abundantly clear the government is not working closely with all schools to provide resources and greater support.

“The fact that 6,790 students were suspended last year speaks volumes when that number is compared to the previous year’s suspensions of 7,425 and the fact that during 2020 schools were closed for a considerable period.

“It’s also alarming that the great majority of those suspensions – almost 1,400 – involved students in Grade Eight, an important formative year for students.

“Ms Courtney and the government need to be doing more to prevent and reduce this harm. With the release of this data, the Minister needs to be telling parents and teachers what she is doing to address this serious issue.

“Labor went to the election with a widely-endorsed policy to place a mental health worker in every school which would give students timely access to support. What plan does Ms Courtney have to reduce bullying apart from rebuilding some bathrooms?”

Josh Willie MLC

Shadow Education Minister

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