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www.corpun.com   :   Archive   :   1999   :   AU Schools Oct 1999

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AUSTRALIA

School CP - October 1999



The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, 1 October 1999

Upper House finally approves corporal punishment stand

By Martine Haley

TASMANIAN principals, teachers, support staff and school volunteers who cane or smack students could face fines and charges of criminal assault.

A ban on corporal punishment in public and independent schools is set to become law after a vote in the Legislative Council yesterday.

The ban is expected to come into effect later this year.

The cane has not been allowed in public schools for several years. However, this was achieved by administrative arrangement and was not contained in legislation.

Independent schools were exempt from the administrative order.

Under the legislation, put forward by Green MHA Peg Putt and supported by the Government and Opposition, a teacher would be liable for a fine of up to $5000 and exposed to criminal charges of assault if found guilty of administering corporal punishment.

Previous attempts to ban the cane had been rejected by the Upper House. In the past 10 years there have been at least five attempts to ban corporal punishment by law.

Corporal punishment was an outdated and disturbing method of disciplining children, Education Minister Paula Wriedt said yesterday.

"Corporal punishment has certainly played a role in our acceptance of violence and if we are ever to turn into a kindlier society and a safer world, revulsion against the physical punishment of children is a good place to start," she said.

"A child is worthy of and has a right to learn in a safe environment, regardless of whether they go to a government school or a non-government school."

Chairman of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools Bill Toppin welcomed the move. He said the schools within the organisation did not support corporal punishment.

However, it is anticipated some Christian parent-operated schools will object to the measure.

Legislative Councillor for Murchison Tony Fletcher spoke against the ban. Mr Fletcher, a former teacher, said a range of disciplinary measures were required by schools.

Mersey MLC Geoff Squibb opposed the ban saying he was not aware of any problems associated with corporal punishment.

Wellington MLC Doug Parkinson supported the ban. "People want discipline in schools but not physical violence," he said.


The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, 21 October 1999

Hefty fine for corporal punishment at school

By Martine Haley

PRINCIPALS, teachers and support staff in all schools face criminal charges if they cane or smack a student.

Parliament yesterday gave final approval for the ban on corporal punishment in state and independent schools, which was introduced by Greens MHA Peg Putt.

However, the Opposition voted against the measure, saying it unfairly singled out teachers.

Opposition education spokesman Ray Groom said the bill replaced one extreme with another.

"It removes a defence previously available to teachers and creates a special offence that does not apply to anyone else in the community caring for children," he said.

The Opposition had supported the original bill to outlaw corporal punishment but had withdrawn its support because of an amendment which created a special offence directed at principals and teachers, he said.

Under the legislation, a teacher would be liable for a fine of up to $5000 and exposed to criminal charges of assault if guilty of administering corporal punishment.

The cane has not been allowed in public schools for several years.

However, this was achieved by administrative arrangement rather than legislation because several attempts to outlaw it through legislation had failed. Independent schools were exempt from the administrative order.

Education Minister Paula Wriedt said she was disappointed at the Opposition's stance.

Ms Putt welcomed the legislation, saying it was an historic change.

"Today's achievement is the end result of lengthy debate in Parliament over many years," she said.

However, Mr Groom said the legislation would add to the burden on principals and teachers.

"This could encourage vexatious complaints and prosecutions," Mr Groom said.

"This legislation discriminates against teachers.

"There are many other people caring for children who will not be liable to prosecution for such an offence."



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