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Call For Criminal Search
Teachers to lose say on Police checks


ALL government school teachers will be forced to have criminal record checks by the start of school next year.
Education Minister Lynne Kosky said laws would be changed in Parliament this week, dispensing with the need for a teacher's consent.
The new laws will also make checks mandatory for teachers at Catholic and independent schools and other workers at state schools.
About 6000 government teachers and thousands more in the private sector are teaching without a criminal record check.
Ms Kosky said staff with serious fraud, serious assault or sexual assault convictions would lose their jobs.
"As soon as this legislation goes through both Houses we will start checks," she said.
The move comes just weeks after several Victorian teachers and principals were found with child pornography.
Opposition education spokesman Victor Perton welcomed the law, but said the Government had not gone far enough.
"We've only caught the dodos involved in this international racket by chance," he said yesterday. "Not everyone who has child pornography has a police record.
"What we really need is random searches of computer hard drives."
But state Australian Education Union deputy president Ann Taylor said many teachers would view the change as cynical after the Government last week asked teachers for consent.
"I understand the Government is nervous with all the stories," she said.
"But I am concerned teachers won't be told, individually they are being checked."
But Victoria's primary and secondary principals associations welcomed the move. Victorian Primary Principals Association president Fred Ackerman was unsure how many would lose their jobs after checks.
"We support the checks absolutely. The sooner everyone is checked, the better," he said.
Victorian Association for Secondary School Principals Andrew Blair said the legislation was sensible and timely.
"This is a profession where the highest standards of relationship between teachers and students is required.
"We need to be certain the people standing in front of students in class are of the highest calibre," he said.
Association of Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green was disappointed about the lack of consultation.
"If teachers are checked and found to have a record, we don't have provision to stand them down during an investigation, and that could take 12 months," she said.
Since 1995, new teachers or teachers applying for a new position have had to undergo a police records check.
State Government documents, seen by the Herald Sun, show about 6000 government school teachers have not moved since 1996 and have not been checked.

Herald Sun (1-11-2004)
Paula Beauchamp

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