SA-BEST to introduce laws to ban corporal punishment in private schools

15 February 2019

SA-BEST today announced it will move to close a draconian loophole which allows corporal punishment to be used in South Australian private schools – one of only two states in Australia which still permit the practice.

SA-BEST MLC and education spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said she was dismayed the outdated laws still existed in SA – and that successive state governments had not moved to outlaw the practice.

Connie will attempt to make amendments to the Education and Services Bill 2018 banning corporal punishment in non-government schools to bring them into line with SA’s public schools – and every other state in the country except Queensland.

Under current legislation, it is still legal for a teacher or principal at a non-government school in SA to use corporal punishment – the use of physical force towards a child – in the school yard.

And while the archaic form of punishment was banned from government schools in 1991, private schools are still able to enforce it.

Connie said the last known official report of corporal punishment in one of the state’s private schools occurred in 2014.

“SA-BEST believes the South Australian Government is breaching several international treaties by allowing corporal punishment to be used in private schools,” Connie said.

“While the practice may not be commonly used - or hopefully not used at all in this day and age - the very fact that the punishment is still part of education laws in this state is appalling,” she said.

“How many parents of private school children don’t know about this loophole?

“One wonders how they would react if their child came home and told their parents they had been smacked by a teacher at school – only to learn the teacher was acting within the current laws.

“As a mother of a young child I was horrified when I learned the legislation still existed and that my child, when he eventually starts school, could be victim to such treatment.

“Closing this draconian loophole, brings to an end, once and for all, any form of physical punishment in any school – whether that be private or public – in South Australia.

“It will also bring our state – finally – in line with other jurisdictions around the country.

“In the post Royal Commission into child abuse matters era, outlawing the practice is entirely appropriate and long overdue – important child safety laws successive state governments should have implemented years ago.”

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