ABC Radio 12th May 2022

On Mornings with Nadia Mitsopoulos

Alarming figures tabled in State Parliament have revealed the extent of reported violence in WA’s public schools from 2017 to 2021. Principals and deputies say they were targeted 1400 times last year – almost twice the number from five years earlier – and disturbingly, incidents involving a weapon or physical object have nearly doubled from 661 to 1060.

Bevan Ripp, the president of the Principals Federation of WA, told Nadia Mitsopoulos he’s “not surprised” because “schools are a reflection of the community in which they exist”. Mr Ripp said “Government needs to address this properly by providing alternatives… longer-term strategies for placement, and programs that actually address the cause of the problem, which is usually to do with mental health.”

In a statement, Education Minister Sue Ellery said the third stage of the State Government’s No Voice to Violence campaign launched last month. She said the campaign had “increased awareness of the issue” and led to “higher reporting”, which she supports.

Ms Ellery said “violence is completely unacceptable” and schools are able to suspend and exclude violent students. She said every public graduate teacher since 2019 has been trained on how to de-escalate and manage aggressive behaviour but “taking a stand against violence is also a whole-of-community responsibility”.

Listen to full interview with Nadia here