Word version of Ballarat Specialist School Transcript

Inquiry into social inclusion and Victorians with a disability
Melbourne — 26 May 2014
Mrs A. Coote
Ms B. Halfpenny
Mr J. Madden
Mrs J. Powell
Ms D. Ryall
Chair: Ms D. Ryall
Deputy Chair: Ms B. Halfpenny
Executive Officer: Dr J. Bush
Research Officer: Ms V. Finn
Administrative Officer: Ms N. Tyler
Mr J. Burt, principal, Ballarat Specialist School.
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Family and Community Development Committee
The CHAIR — John, thank you for coming before the committee today and providing us with a
presentation to assist us with our inquiry, which is essentially into social inclusion and Victorians with a
disability. We have some preliminaries. As outlined in the guide provided to you, in line with the Parliamentary
Committees Act 2003, you are afforded parliamentary privilege in this hearing. Any discussion that you have or
information that you talk about outside these walls is not afforded that same privilege. In addition, you will be
provided with a transcript of today’s hearing; Hansard will be recording the information. You are able to make
any grammatical or factual corrections that might be needed in that. The normal process is to ask you to present
to us for 15 minutes. That will enable us to ask some questions for the remainder of the 45 minutes.
Mr BURT — First of all, thank you very much for the invitation to be here. For the past 20 years I have
been principal of Ballarat Specialist School. It certainly has been a passion of mine, and it still is. At my age, 65,
a lot of people are saying, ‘When are you going to finish?’. I have not got that on the horizon at all.
Ballarat Specialist School is now a school of 440 students, all with considered disability — and from there I am
going to leave ‘disability’ out of it, because we focus on ability. It is what our students can do that we develop
and further enhance. Our aim is to make them community members who are very worthwhile and contributing.
Our age range at the moment is from 3-year-olds through to 18-year-olds. We have had now for the past year
and a half an early learning centre, which is specific to children three to five years old. I am pleased to say it is
actually booming. In fact we are chock-a-block already, and we cannot take any more.
The school is divided into three sections. I have spoken about the early learning centre. Within the main school
we have a junior school for 5-year-olds to 10-year-olds; a middle school, 11 to 14; and a senior school, 15 to 18.
In our senior school we have a specifically built building that we call our young adult centre. It is on the same
campus as the major school, but there is a difference so the kids realise that they are young adults, and the
expectation is that they will act like young adults. So we work on the principle that the expectations are high,
and the results we are getting are very high. Each student, no matter where they are within the school, has an
individual education plan. That education plan has to be measurable and attainable — and success is the key
word. That plan is put together by parents, carers and agencies that are involved with the student and their own
We have a staff now of 182 to look after those 440 students. Within the staff we have a number of sections. We
have a therapy section consisting of 19 people who are occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech
pathologists, chaplains, school nurses — and so it goes on. They are a significant group within our population.
Many of our students are receiving, for example, hydrotherapy perhaps two or three times a day, and for them it
is much more relevant than reading, writing and arithmetic.
Around 1997 we went into a very intense camping program. Being a lot younger then, I was heavily involved in
that program, and — guess what — I still am. So I still take kids away regularly on camps, and we sleep under
canvas. What we noticed was that a change could be made over a three-day period. Many of our kids were
saying to me and to another member of staff, ‘We don’t want to go home. We’re very happy in this
environment. It is not the best sort of sleeping, under canvas; however, we’re being fed, we’re warm and we feel
It got me thinking that, if we can do this in three days, what can we do for these people over a 10-week period,
so we developed what we now call an educational residential program. We specifically built a house on our
campus which is known as the ERU, the educational residential unit. In that unit we focus purely on living
skills: how do they look after themselves, how do they budget, how do they do all things that you and I probably
take for granted? We run that over a 10-week program. The program consists of a 24-hour-a-day educational
program. They come to school from 9 to 3, then from 3 in the afternoon to 9 the next morning they move into
the educational unit and they live there eight at a time. We are now up to program 43, so 43 times 8 have been
through that program. Eighty-six per cent of those students who have been through that program — and we go
down as low as six and seven-year-olds — are deemed to be able to live independently.
It is staggering and it really has amazed us that this sort of change can happen with individuals. How do we
know this? We have people come in from outside school and assess them before they go into the program,
immediately after the program and then six months after the program to see what has been retained.
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Family and Community Development Committee
The program focuses on different areas depending on the needs of the students, so the students are grouped
together according to their needs. Many of our young adults — the 15 to 18-year-olds — who go through that
are really looking at independent living: ‘When I leave home or when I leave where I’m being looked after at
the moment, what is going to happen to me?’. The budgeting skills, just the everyday-type activities, are the
goals that are set during that program.
When we first started the program, there was a real resistance from some parents and from some agencies. The
old ‘institution’ word arose. We really had to change that attitude and focus on, ‘This is an educational program.
It’s not respite. It’s not a social program. It is an educational program’. What happens is that the kids are there
for five days a week. They come in on Monday and go out on Friday afternoon. At the weekend they have set
activities that they need to do over the weekend in conjunction with parents and carers. Then they come back on
Monday. It goes for a whole term, so it is a 10-week program.
Moving on from the residential unit program, which is about living skills, I started to think that we need to look
further and at vocational skills. Hence we developed the FARM. The word FARM for us represents flexibility,
adaptability, responsibility and management — and a bracket after that with self-management. We needed to
provide an environment where vocational-type activities for our students could happen. Cutting a long story
short, we were able to obtain a site right in the centre of Ballarat. It was a former secondary school site which
had lain dormant for 15 years. We have now taken over that site, and since 2007 we have developed our
The FARM has a residential component, which is two 2-bedroom flats. Our students, after they have been in the
ERU, move to the two 2-bedroom flats. There is a residence where the FARM manager lives, so he is there 24/7
with his family, and there is some sort of security if the students need to contact someone. There is
dormitory-style accommodation, which is for up to 20 students and four adults. People can use that. Classes can
go up there for overnight stays et cetera.
On the FARM we have pigs, we have chooks, we have cattle, we have a massive market garden and we have a
propagation area — where we develop our own plants from seeds — hothouses and so on. On the east side of
the FARM there are residences backing onto it. We thought we might have had some objection from them.
Guess what? They have all put gates in their back fences so they can come in and use the FARM and set up
their own garden plots, so it has become a real community dwelling.
The latest thing — and it only opened in March this year — is that we have established a bakery and a cafe. I
think we are the only school in Australia that employs a qualified baker, who is now training young people —
our students — in formal apprenticeships to be bakers. That is booming. I wish it was mine; I would retire and
live off the earnings. We have two cafes within our complex — one at Gillies Street, which is the main school,
and the other one is the bakery cafe on Norman, which is up on the FARM site.
The FARM site is only 9 kilometres away from the main campus, so we have a transport system where classes
every day are working up at the FARM and doing these outside-type activities. We have a carpentry workshop,
and we have a metal workshop. If you go back to the old days of tech schools, that is exactly what we have
established on the FARM.
Success — the increase in our senior students has quite virtually quadrupled since 2007. All our students are
eligible for a disability pension when they turn 16. In the old days once they got the dollar in their pocket they
would leave us. The reverse is happening now. They are getting the dollar in the pocket but staying until they
are 18. The confidence and ability in these students to go out and work in a real work situation is just so evident.
That has evolved and will continue to evolve because the next step is for the bakery cafe to be open seven days
a week, including our students being rostered on to fulfil whatever is required to do that. My hope is that we are
in a position to be able to actually pay these people to do that sort of work and encourage them to do it.
In summing up, I just want to say ‘disability’ is a nothing word. What we as a community have to focus on is
what people can do. For those of us in responsibility positions — and I see myself as being very privileged to be
able to do what I do as my job — it is to provide the support and encouragement to allow this to happen. Thank
The CHAIR — John, thank you very much for that presentation and for all the terrific information you have
provided in relation to the school.
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Family and Community Development Committee
Mr BURT — I hope all of that is in the folder. If you cannot decipher it, give us a call, and I will help you
with that.
The CHAIR — That will be fine. I have to ask this question, because there are two schools of thought —
pardon the pun — in terms of schools. There are those who say, ‘Don’t specialise schools’ — —
Mr BURT — ‘Let’s get rid of special schools’.
The CHAIR — ‘Integration is the way’. Then there are others who say, ‘No, let’s have them’. Interestingly I
was recently at a book launch with a lady whose beautiful daughter has Down syndrome and another little girl
came up to me. She was maybe eight years old or nine years old and had a physical disability, and she said to
me, ‘I have to ask you: why don’t they have schools just for children in wheelchairs, because I think it is
dangerous’. She had quite a well-thought-out process in relation to that. Once again in my mind it had me
thinking about the different views in relation to the types of schooling. I hear what you are saying in relation to
assisting your students to be job ready and have the life skills and abilities to do that. I wonder what your views
are on that perspective?
Mr BURT — I think there is definitely a place for specialist settings. However, I think mainstream schools
can be far more adaptable and flexible to cater for the needs of many students. If we look at our school
population, I would say that there are probably around 60 to 100 students in our population who should not be
there; they should be able to be maintained in regular schools. Why are they not being maintained in regular
schools? I am going to be very frank and honest: we are so tied up with numbers within our system at the
moment for people to go on and do further education that those students who will never go to university are not
being catered for at all. I have a real concern about that because not everyone needs to go to university to be a
worthwhile community member. I think we need the pendulum to swing back just a little bit so that these
people have something meaningful to do in mainstream schools.
What we have created at Ballarat is nothing new. I was talking to a group last week. They were saying to me,
‘Where do all the ideas come from?’. John Burt is just an ordinary bloke; he is not a special brain in any way,
shape or form. It is the old tech model that we are based on. The school that used to be where the FARM is now
had the best workshops, mechanics area and woodwork area that any school could possibly have. For some
reason or other we destroyed all that, pulled it all down and said, ‘We don’t need this anymore’. What a terrible
shame. I look forward to somehow getting back to that within the mainstream setting. Primary schools I think
can do it reasonably well with a bit more encouragement and the odd word of support. How much support do
we need? Not much, I believe.
The CHAIR — You mentioned that there are a number of students who do not necessarily need to be at
your school; they could be in mainstream schools. You said the determinant for that is the numbers issue. What
are parents’ views in relation to making that choice, and where does that stem from?
Mr BURT — I have had some parents take up to five years to make the call to come to our school. Six
months after they have been there, they are knocking on my door crying and saying, ‘John, why didn’t you
force us to do this earlier?’. We are not in a position to be able to do that. We are bursting with numbers. What
we have to do at Ballarat is either set up an annex to take further numbers in our area or start looking at the real
possibilities of students being maintained in regular schools. That is a decision you people have to make —
thank goodness — not me, in order to cope with it, because the numbers are increasing. Why are the numbers
increasing? Because we are becoming smarter and identifying these types of people much earlier, and the
numbers are growing.
Mr MADDEN — John, thank you for that presentation. Many years ago I was a school teacher.
Mr BURT — I know.
Mr MADDEN — I taught at St Joseph’s Technical School in Abbotsford. One of the things I learnt there —
and it is interesting hearing you say the sorts of things you said — is that I discovered there were students who
learn best just by doing. You can use all the theory and all the books you want, but there are some
individuals — not surprisingly — who just learn better by doing. I was interested to hear you say in your
presentation that you put a lot of effort and time into teaching your students by getting them to learn by doing
rather than by theorising or spending a lot of time writing about it. Probably their best education is doing it. Dee
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Family and Community Development Committee
talked about alternate models. I am interested in your experiences in learning from doing, because I think from
what I have seen — outside of education too — is that there are some students who are just better off doing and
learning that way rather than any other way.
Mr BURT — Justin, if you do not mind, I am going to use a very concrete example. I am going to talk about
Mark. Mark is our first apprentice baker. He was our school captain last year. He is now on the payroll. Before I
came down to Melbourne today he rushed up to me to say, ‘Burty, I’ve just had my school photo taken today
and I’m in as a staff member. How good is that?’. And it is true: that is what he is.
Mark came to us as a 14-year-old. He came from a private school. The year before he came to us he had
attended school two days — two days for the year. That was the only time he went to school, and his parents
were paying for it and continued to pay for it in the hope that he might go back one day. Since being with us he
never missed a day, and he was coming up by train from Bacchus Marsh every day, school holidays included.
Why? Because he could do things. On the FARM campus he was in charge of the animals. He was feeding the
calves, he was getting in the pig pen, and away he went. He was happy as a pig in you know what, and he
actually was.
He has now developed into a very good young man. He is huge; he is massive. His grandparents who had come
from South Australia were up at the cafe the other day, and they cried because they had never seen this boy
happier. He is happy because he is doing something, he is worthwhile and his status has just grown. That is just
one example where the focus is not on what he cannot do, but on what he can do.
That is what we have to do: get the attitude and the values turned around. What can people do? How can we
change that? I think it is very simple, but we just have to get out there and sell it. The gap still exists, whether
we like it or not it, with attitudes towards people who are not as fortunate as perhaps we are. Disability is still
there, and it does not need to be, because we can all make a contribution.
Mrs POWELL — John, I know you have an interest and expertise in local government. A number of people
coming to the committee have said that there needs to be more interaction with local government, that local
government might have a disability plan and that it might know how to work with people who have a disability.
Are you finding that in Ballarat? Are they working with your organisation, with your FARM, even with your
local government hat on?
There is another question I would like to ask. I was interested in hearing you say that the students that you have
had assessed really enjoy being there, but you had a concern that some of them should be in the mainstream. We
hear conflicting views, with some saying it should be mainstream, with support for the people with disability.
Can you tell us what the interaction is with local government but also how you think those students could have
been better supported in the mainstream, and can your organisation help those people in the mainstream, or is
that not what you do?
Mr BURT — Let us deal with local government first of all. Ballarat is, I think, a unique city in that it does
have a very good disability program. I shudder, again, when we have people designated to work in this area. It
does not need to be a separate area. It needs to be incorporated into our everyday operation.
Concrete evidence for what we are doing in Ballarat is that on our FARM we nurse all the trees that are being
grown for the Avenue of Honour. That has become a joint project with the City of Ballarat, the Rotary Club at
Ballarat South and Ballarat Specialist School. Our FARM has been established with community money and no
government money. The only contribution the state government has made to us has been the provision of two
mod 5 classroom buildings. We were grateful to receive them, but the rest of it has been built from the goodwill
of our community.
Moving on to what we need to do in mainstream schools to accommodate these people, again it is an attitudinal
thing. Some people believe it is just too hard, and it is not too hard at all. As a specialist school within our
area — and we are more than just a school in Ballarat; we have become a regional resource — we are more than
prepared to go out and assist staff from regular schools in dealing with autism, physical disability, muscular
dystrophy or whatever it might be. We have got the lot. It is a smorgasbord of everything.
Our school is the result of two schools being merged together. One of the schools was the Ballarat Special
Developmental School, which had students below 52 on the IQ scale, and the other had students who were just
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Family and Community Development Committee
below the 70 mark, and they were all boys, believe it or not. The only reason they were in a specialist setting is
that there were behaviour problems.
I spent my first years at the school getting kids down off the roof, bribing them to come down — ‘Come down
and I’ll give you an icy pole’ or ‘Come down and I’ll do this for you’. It is true, but we do not have any of that
anymore, because the programs that we now offer are stimulating and the kids want to do them. The kids who
come into the hospitality area or go into the hairdressing section of our school ask to do that. When they ask to
do something and you give it to them, you do not often get behaviour issues and those sorts of problems that we
were scared of. That is where the mainstream schools are at. They are scared of the behaviour-type issues that
they may be confronted with, and I do not blame them for that. But if you provide the right programs —
programs that the kids want to do — you do not have any of it. You might have some occasionally, but most of
the time they are on track.
The hairdressing one is an absolute riot. We have three women employed there, none of whom are teachers, but
they come in and work under the supervision of a teacher. The highlight of the three-week period is when old
Burty comes up to have his eyebrows trimmed, because it takes longer to trim his eyebrows than it does to cut
his hair. That is true. They form a circle around me as this is happening, and I get a chance to interact with them
and talk to them.
It is like the little girl who came up to me. She was 16, a beautiful girl, Maria. Every time I saw her I used to
sing to her, ‘I just met a girl named Maria’. She came to me in tears one day, saying, ‘John, I’m sick of being
Down syndrome. What can I do about it?’. But I cannot do anything about it. Straightaway I just said to her,
‘Have a look at me, Maria. What do you find that’s different about me?’, and straightaway she said, ‘You’ve
got no hair’. I said, ‘Maria, I can’t do anything about that either, nor can you, so let’s get on with it’. We gave
each other a hug — which you’re not supposed to do, but we did all that — and Maria has moved on. I am
pleased to say she is in an acting position; she works for a theatre as a professional actress. With Down
syndrome, a so-called disability, here she is, doing these wonderful things. It can happen and must happen, and
we have to change that attitude so that it does happen.
Mrs COOTE — John, so much of what you have said has been seriously uplifting and terrific. But you said
you have been there for 20 years. You have spoken about social inclusion and how it should happen. In that
20 years you will have seen some huge changes in social inclusion for the rest of the community. Where do we
go for the next decade, and what have been the biggest changes that you have seen in that 20 years in social
inclusion specifically? Then in the next decade what are the things that this committee should be looking at,
making recommendations on and highlighting?
Mr BURT — I will be a bit negative now, because we really have not seen much change at all, sadly. What
have we been trying to do to change that? In the last six months we have been working with Commerce Ballarat
and bringing them into our cafes and the bakery with the idea of saying to the business houses of Ballarat, ‘Hey,
these people can do what you want them to do within your businesses. Are you prepared to give them a go?’.
We get incredible support from the local businesses within the Ballarat area. They are reluctant because they are
ignorant about what our people can do. When they see them live, doing what they do in the cafe and the bakery,
I think that attitude will change quickly, and maybe there is a chance for diversion and real employment.
How long have we been talking about social inclusion and how everyone should be part of our — probably
longer than I would like to think about. In my time within the department — I am coming up to 50 years — I
have gone through a number of government changes, but in reality nothing changes. Somewhere along the line
we have to stand up and say, ‘This is what needs to happen for the good of our people’. Politically that might
not be correct. However, until we do something like that — and I am hoping that out of this group, that might be
the starting point. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it is?
Mrs COOTE — Do you think that is education based? You spoke before about going out with outreach into
other schools and talking about autism. That is the example you gave. Do you think there needs to be much
more of that formalised interaction at the teaching level so that people are not as concerned about what they
may come across? Obviously working with a business is something else. To be effective, where do you think it
has to come from? Does it have to come from the community? Does it have to come from your school? Does it
have to come from government regulation or local government? Where does it come from?
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Family and Community Development Committee
Mr BURT — It is a community focus that needs to change from a job orientation to a people orientation so
that people become the focus. I have been criticised that I am a one-way person. I am not, really. We have to
look at what the needs of the individual are, provide the program that enhances what that person is able to do
and then provide the support mechanisms, if that is required, to be able to do that. Within the teaching service
we just need to be far more flexible than we are.
Mrs COOTE — Do you think there need to be courses in the curriculum for aspiring teachers? Is that
something that is going to be useful so that they can come and have hands-on working experience?
Mr BURT — Absolutely. We run programs for Federation University, which was Ballarat University. Last
Friday we had a program which was a culmination of a 10-week program for human movement students, who
came in and ran a sports day for our students — 180 students from the university at one time, working with our
440 students. It was the best day you could ever imagine. The energy that was provided in that setting would
have run Ballarat for a week. It was just magnificent. The sad thing about that is that the education faculty does
not have time for such things, and therein lies the problem. Human movement, which is more of a
community-based program, sees the need for that to be done, whereas the education faculty — we do not have
time for that.
Mrs COOTE — We had someone present to us earlier today who said that one of the best things they can
see is having people with a disability actually out in the community.
Mr BURT — I could not agree with that more.
Mrs COOTE — Yes, and obviously the examples you have given about the bakery and some of those other
things make that sort of difference.
Mr BURT — We take our kids three times a year on a camp. The final camp for the year is that we go to
restaurants together, and the people who are running these restaurants come up to us and say, ‘Your kids are the
best behaved kids we could ever have’ — and they are. They are exemplary, because they are out in the
community, and they feel comfortable in the community. Yes, sure, we get some looks. That is okay. Some of
the kids might come up and say, ‘I will go over and donk that fellow. Why is he looking at me like that?’. Just
say, ‘Because he thinks you’re pretty good’ — end of story. It is about attitude and values.
Mrs COOTE — So basically, to summarise, we all have a huge responsibility as a community to take it to
the next decade.
Mr BURT — Yes. But it is a very challenging one and an extremely rewarding one.
The CHAIR — John, I want to pick up on the differences between your school and some of the mainstream
schools. You referred to, for example, the hairdressing and the FARM. There are obviously a range of different
things you have in your school curriculum, if you like, that are different from mainstream curricula. If we were
to look at more integration, if you like, in terms of the mainstream, would that mean that the mainstream would
need to start to look at its curriculum? Not all children in mainstream education are academically oriented; they
may be more interested in hands-on learning. Therefore do we need to be catering, within our educational
institutions or within the one school, for a range of different learning styles, which would actually better
encompass kids of all abilities? I guess I am just trying to draw together the threads of what you are saying.
Mr BURT — You are quite right. I said before that we have a staff of 182. Out of that 182 there are
62 teachers. We can employ people either on a casual basis or on a full-time basis on the central payroll or
whatever — it does not matter. I can employ three people for the value of one teacher. The woodwork teacher
or the instrumental music teacher are not qualified teachers, but in instrumental music we have a symphony
orchestra, we have four rock bands and we have a 60-voice choir that is just magnificent. The kids cannot read
or write, but they can play a musical instrument. So they stand up in front of the state schools spectacular with
an audience of 12 000 people and get a standing ovation. Ballarat Specialist School — it is a school for the
disabled. What I am trying to say is that again we come back to creativity with our system and the system
allowing individual schools — here I go on my hobbyhorse — to do what they need to do to serve their
community best, and one plug does not fit all holes. We have to be flexible in doing that.
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Family and Community Development Committee
The CHAIR — I think that does encapsulate what I was referring to. In terms of students of all abilities
fitting into areas of education that best suit their focus, the way they learn and their level of ability, do you
believe that therefore assists because later on the fact that there has been social inclusion at a very early age can
help society through to the next decade and beyond by encapsulating that?
Mr BURT — There is a private school in Ballarat that runs an excellent program. I am not going to name
the school, because I do not want to set up a connotation. Part of the arrangement we have with that school is we
have reverse integration, so the students of prep age within that school come and work with our entry-age kids
one afternoon a week, which is Wednesday afternoon. We have Ballarat parents within our community saying,
‘Our kids will go to this private school providing they get the opportunity to interact with Ballarat Specialist
School on Wednesday afternoon’. That comes back to your question of whether over the next decade we are
going to be able to change that attitude. Yes, we are, providing we do those sorts of things. Reverse integration
is something I am very interested in. The focus does not always necessarily have to be on the disability. It has to
be on us — on those who are considered regular or normal, whatever that means, also.
When we merged the two schools there were serious issues within our parent body, because our more passive
and disabled kids were seen to be at risk from our robust kids, who were very mobile and, as I said, were all
boys and very strong. Guess what happened — when we met in the middle, our more robust, outgoing kids
quietened down. These kids came up and rose because they had better models to work with. Within our area
that sort of thing happened for real. I will never forget the first day of the merged school, which was October
1997, when the regional director said to me, ‘Burt, come down to my office straightaway. There is a group of
parents here who are after your blood’. What separated the two schools were two glass doors. Our wonderful
regional director said, ‘Burt, put the doors back’. I said, ‘I can’t. They’ve gone to the tip, and never shall they be
reinstated. We have worked through it’. What I have just described is the reality of the situation. That is what
happened — beautiful.
Mrs POWELL — John, you have 440 students. You are at capacity, so you are having to think about what
you do. Ballarat is a special school, but it is not the only special school in Victoria. Do you meet with the other
schools, and do you exchange ideas so we can actually, as a committee, make recommendations of best
practice? What do you think best practice is for social inclusion for people with a disability?
Mr BURT — I am a complete failure as far as meeting with other specialist settings goes. I am a complete
failure when it comes to going to meetings. I am a doer. I am not a talker. I get frustrated with sitting around —
this is not relevant to this hearing, because you are very nice people — but I get very frustrated with just talking
and talking and then talking about when we are going to have the next meeting so we can talk some more. It has
to be done. So I am a failure in that area.
As far as inclusiveness and encouraging other settings goes, there are two or three of us who get together
regularly, and we speak the same language. We run very different schools, but really there has been no interest
in our programs from a lot of other schools — mainstream or specialist sectors — and I do not know why. Is it
because they do not want to get into residential-type programs? I do not know. Is it easier just to work between
the hours of 9 and 3, have a meeting to finish off the day and then go home and forget about it? At our place it is
24/7, and that is what it should be, because that is what life is about. We have to make it as close to real life as
we possibly can. I hear it all over the place — ‘He is a nut, what he is doing. He is crazy’.
In relation to the unions, we have four different agreements that we work within because of the people we
employ. That causes a few problems occasionally, but again if you sit down and talk to them about why you are
doing this, why you are doing that and why you want people to do this — because it is for the benefit of kids —
it seems to resolve itself. The art of communication is something we really have to work on.
The CHAIR — John, thank you very much for coming before the committee today. It has certainly been
very enlightening, and we really appreciate your time.
Mr BURT — If I can assist in any way, shape or form, please do not hesitate to contact me.
The CHAIR — Thank you very much. Good to see you again.
Witness withdrew.
26 May 2014
Family and Community Development Committee
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