Australian Greens Senators' dissenting report

Australian Greens Senators' dissenting report

1.1The Greens reiterate the views and recommendations previously outlined in the interim dissenting report. Student behaviour doesn’t begin at the school gate, and the committee’s recommendations amount to tinkering around the edges, rather than addressing the key drivers of student disengagement and behaviours of concern.

1.2From the outset, the very premise of this inquiry has been flawed. There are genuine questions around the methodology used by PISA to determine school disciplinary climate,[1] as well as the claimed causal relationship in the terms of reference between school disciplinary climate and declining results in academic achievement.[2]

1.3Notwithstanding, the evidence given during the inquiry, as well as the latest PISA results, tells us nothing we did not already know. Numerous inquiries and reviews prior to this one have told us that there is a growing educational divide in this country, such that a students’ family’s socio-economic status is now the primary determinant of how well they do at school.

1.4Following close behind is whether a student lives in a regional, rural or remote area, whether they are First Nations, and whether they have a disability. We also know that the majority of students who are underachieving are taught predominantly in our under-resourced public schools.

1.5Further, the inquiry’s reliance on testimony from behavioural specialists is a major concern. The evidence-base for behavioural management is limited at best, and its application in a classroom setting and potential influence on education policy is troubling, as are several recommendations in the interim report which seem to open the door to expanding the market for behavioural specialists in Australia.

1.6Australian students need social and emotional learning in spaces they feel safe to explore. Using government resources to build a quasi-market of behavioural specialists does not help these students. It simply exposes them to the teachings of ‘specialists’ with limited regulation or accountability underpinning their expertise.

1.7Recommendations should focus on the causes of breakdown in the school environment. This means acknowledging the role that schools are increasingly expected to play in Australian society. As Covid laid bare, when students were directed to stay home, teachers in Australia are expected to be psychologists, counsellors, social workers and educators.

1.8Designing a behavioural curriculum will only take you so far because the drivers of disengagement are not, and never have been, under the control of teachers. The Government and the Opposition should be prepared to address the external drivers of school disruption, chiefly poverty, food security, housing security, and the lack of inclusive spaces at school or at home.

1.9Integration between education and healthcare services is welcome, however integrating two underfunded systems does not make a whole. Significantly increased investment is required in both health and education to provide access to increased levels of support for young people, ideally co-located within schools.

1.10For these reasons the Greens put forward the following recommendations.

Full funding

1.11Improving the quality of teacher education is only part of the issue. Improving teacher education requires a concurrent investment in paying teachers adequately to be able to supervise undergraduates and interns.

1.12Workload intensification and teacher shortages mean teachers need to be encouraged to take on the additional work that supervision and mentoring done well entails. Further investment and increases in funding that actually supports teachers to have more non-contact time for collaborative planning is also required.

Recommendation 1

1.13The Australian Government deliver 100 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard to all public schools at the beginning of the next National School Reform Agreement in 2025.


1.14There is a strong risk that pursuing behavioural change will increase exclusionary practices. Information that Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion (QAI) obtained through right to information processes showed that nearly half of suspended and excluded students have a disability. Students from First Nations communities and students living in out-of-home care are also disproportionately represented in these statistics.[3] Students with a disability may be presenting as disruptive rather than struggling. Any reform must focus on inclusion rather than further exclusion.

Recommendation 2

1.15The Australian Government commit to ending segregated education within the decade, with an initial $10 million to co-design a National Inclusive Education Transition Plan.

Recommendation 3

1.16The Australian Government immediately implements in full the recommendations of the inquiry into the National Trend of School Refusal.


1.17Evidence from other inquiries shows us that housing insecurity is a major disruption for students. Families moving due to rent increases and evictions means children are forced to constantly reintegrate into new schools.

1.18Ensuring students have access to secure housing, and their parents and carers aren’t exposed to rental or housing stress, is key to reducing external stressors for students.

Recommendation 4

1.19The Australian Government commit to substantial further investment in public, social and genuinely affordable housing in the 2024–25 Federal budget, including specific funding for youth and First Nations housing.

Recommendation 5

1.20The Australian Government coordinates with the states and territories to freeze rental increases for two years, followed by a limit on rental increases of two per cent every two years.


1.21The experiences of students outside of the classroom has been neglected throughout this inquiry. MacKillop Family Services submitted that:

… 72 per cent of children have been exposed to at least one adverse childhood experience such as bullying, family violence, sexual abuse, racism, neglect, death of a parent, parental mental health or substance use issues, food or housing insecurity or environmental disaster.[4]

1.22Poverty is a political choice. Eliminating poverty and food insecurity should be the core focus of any attempts to reduce disengagement and behaviours of concern.

Recommendation 6

1.23The Australian Government immediately lift the base rate of all income support payments to $88 a day, regardless of age.

Recommendation 7

1.24The Australian Government make a national commitment to end child poverty.

Recommendation 8

1.25The Australian Government undertake a review of the Parenting Payment (Single), with a view to increasing the allowance and improving eligibility to better support single-parent families and children, particularly those experiencing domestic and family violence; and expand coverage of the Parenting Payment (Single), so that eligible single parents remain eligible for the payment until their youngest child’s 16th birthday.

Senator Penny Allman-Payne

Substitute Member

Greens Senator for Queensland


[1]Yong Zhao, Two decades of havoc: A synthesis of criticism against PISA, Journal of Educational Change (2020) (21:245–266).

[2]Dr Helen Egeberg, Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University School of Education, Committee Hansard, 7 June 2023, p. 1.

[3]Ms Sophie Wiggans, Systems Advocate, Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion, Committee Hansard, 20 April 2023, p. 6.

[4]MacKillop Family Services, Submission 34, p. 1.