ADMINISTRATION OF PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS TO SCHOOL STUDENTS
Mr WATKINS: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs. Can the Minister inform the House of any progress to resolve difficulties with regard to administering prescribed medication to pupils in government schools?
Mr AQUILINA: The honourable member for Gladesville is a serious member who, unlike his predecessor, is keen and alert during question time - not snoring his head off - and that is obviously the reason he is the honourable member for Gladesville today. He is another former teacher and a person who is very much an expert in education, unlike honourable members opposite who claim to be experts in education but know nothing at all about the subject.
Mr Fraser: On a point of order: there is so much noise coming from the Government benches that I cannot hear -
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No point of order is involved.
Mr AQUILINA: Is it any wonder there is trouble on the Opposition side of the House, given the drivel that has just emanated from the honourable member for Coffs Harbour.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will address his remarks through the Chair.
Mr AQUILINA: I can inform the House that, following extensive consultation, agreement has now been reached with the Public Service Association on the difficult question of the administration of prescribed medicines for school students. I am pleased to say that the matter has been resolved in the best interests of school students, their parents and the school community. But I am sad to say that the Opposition, and in particular the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai, have tried to use parents and students and, indeed, ancillary staff for their base political purposes. This is the man who gets up in this House time and time again and says, "We want a bipartisan approach to education matters." These serious matters deserve public scrutiny and public attention. Yet, time and time again on issues as important as this, he resorts to the base political practice of misleading and misguiding people.
It is shameful for the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai to unnecessarily frighten parents into believing that their children would not receive their medication at school. The agreement provides for appropriate information and support being given to an ancillary staff member who will be paid an allowance to administer prescribed medications to students and to maintain relevant records. For students who require certain health care procedures such as catheterisation, tube feeding, suction of fluids, and administration of rectal Valium, a special teacher's aide will be given accredited training in such health care procedures and will be paid an appropriate allowance. Some Opposition members are making a joke of this. This is a serious matter. They ought to realise that parents are concerned.
Mr O'Doherty: On a point of order: this is a serious matter and should be the subject of a ministerial statement.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No point of order is involved. The honourable member understands fully what a ministerial statement is. He is deliberately interrupting the Minister.
Mr AQUILINA: If the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai had asked me the question, I would have been happy to answer it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will answer the question.
Mr AQUILINA: In reaching agreement on these matters the Department of School Education and the Public Service Association have made a
commitment to the provision and administration of medication and health procedures in all relevant schools. These proposals, which will provide improved care for students and recognise the work of ancillary staff in government schools, also demonstrate the Government's commitment to improve student welfare. This can-do Government is resolving these issues in the best interests of the children, their parents, the schools and the staff. Once again, the Carr Labor Government is getting it right, right from the start.