Canberra Times, education minister embroiled in cage fight

A controversial image is at the centre of a debate around disability rights and the ACT's education system.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

ACT Education Minister Joy Burch has accused The Canberra Times of a lapse of ethical standards after the Fairfax paper yesterday published a photo of a cage — or as Burch tends to call it, an “inappropriate structure” — custom-built at a school to control an autistic 10-year-old earlier this year. But the acting editor of the Canberra Times tells Crikey he stands by his paper: “It’s called journalism”.

The scandal around the cage’s use broke when someone associated with the school complained to the Human Rights Commission about it earlier this year. Yesterday the school principal stood down after the long-awaited conclusion of a departmental investigation into the construction of the now-demolished “inappropriate structure”.

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6 comments

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6 thoughts on “Canberra Times, education minister embroiled in cage fight

  1. dcparker

    Who is this Minister? Doesn’t she understand anything about accountability, let alone journalism? It is she (and her department) who should be ashamed of herself. Good on the Canberra Times and others for exposing this “cage” monstrosity. Of course the picture is a powerful demonstration of the whole sad affair.

  2. MJM

    This is not a Minister who has shown any understanding of or aptitude for the portfolio of education. One disaster after another.

    Her statement here is nonsense. The publication of the picture does not reveal anything about the school – not its name or location. Nor does it reveal the identity of the pupil or his/her family or the school principal. It depicts the structure – that’s it.

  3. CML

    I would be good if the MSM could publish a few ‘facts’ about more important issues than this one. Missing in action, mostly, on the significant national and international concerns of the present day.
    This is all about sensationalism!

    Further, I seem to remember when this story was first in the news, that the reason given for the “fenced area” was to protect the other children in the school/class from being injured by the 10 year old in question. He could be quite violent at times, apparently.
    Guess which parents would be the first to complain if their progeny had been attacked??????
    There is always two sides to every story. The teacher involved is being made a scapegoat.

    (I do not live in the ACT, or have any connection with the people involved)

  4. AR

    Another arse covering apparatchik – hardly news.

  5. Norman Hanscombe

    Trust Crikey to become obsessed with a birdcage which [while not unimportant] is a minor issue compared with the wasteful, educationally ineffective — other than the damage they do to students — ‘progressive’ approaches in our ‘education’ systems.
    On the other hand, it would be indefensibly over-optimistic to expect Crikey Cavern Denizens to even begin to comprehend this, wouldn’t it.

  6. Itsarort

    CML is quite right.

    Since Specialist schools were closed down, mainstream schools have been forced to take up the slack. University research has suggested that this is a good idea, as long as there is sufficient funding – which, of course, there isn’t.

    “Fenced-off” areas for potentially violent students is standard practice to protect everybody. However, there are no big burly security types at mainstream schools that are trained in subduing volatile adolescent aspergers syndrome students who may suddenly go into an uncontrollable frenzied rage.

    Don’t let the media blame the teachers, blame the Education Department and the Government.

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