ALMOST a quarter of all abuse incidents involving students with a disability in public schools in NSW occurred in the Tamworth area, the state opposition has claimed.
The Labor Party told The Leader there were 60 child protection investigations involving vulnerable students in the Department of Education’s Tamworth operational area in the last 18 months alone.
The opposition said the latest figures list principals, primary and secondary teachers, teachers’ aides, travel support staff and school administration staff as alleged perpetrators.
“Some of the most vulnerable children in our society are being abused in NSW Government schools and this document shows it is getting worse,” Tamworth Labor MLC Daniel Mookhey said.
“It is rare for all members of a cross-party inquiry to agree the NSW Government has failed to protect vulnerable children.
“This shows the magnitude of the problem that NSW needs to confront.”
However, the education department said the operational area encompassed a large portion of the state and was not limited to Tamworth.
“The Tamworth Operational Area – one of four in the state - covers a large portion of NSW including public schools in the New England North West, North Coast, Mid North Coast, Hunter Valley, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle areas,” a spokesperson said.
”It comprises more than 600 public schools with an enrolment of almost 160,000 students.”
The Department of Education spokesperson said more than 30,000 students in the Tamworth operational area were receiving assistance for a disability or learning difficulty.
“[The area] is part of the Department of Education which is committed to providing a range of learning support and assistance for students with difficulties in learning or disability with more than $1 billion allocated to these areas this year,” he said.
“The range of provisions reflects the diverse learning needs of students with disability, the choices and preferences of their parents and carers, and the department’s support obligations under disability legislation.”