ACT News

Principals back schools' responses to phone threats

Advocates for principals and parents said there was no call for extra security measures after threats were made to eight Canberra schools last week. 

Thousands of students and staff were temporarily evacuated after the threats made on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a teen was arrested on Thursday in relation to the hoax threat made to Calwell High School. Police investigations were continuing into the source of the other threats, although they were understood to be part of an international hoax.

ACT police outside Canberra's Lanyon High School on Tuesday after a bomb threat.
ACT police outside Canberra's Lanyon High School on Tuesday after a bomb threat. Photo: Rohan Thomson

ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations vice-president Vivienne Pearce said there had been a general view the threats had been handled well by schools, police and the education directorate, and anecdotally parents had no criticism of security measures in place. 

"There's been an annoyance that an important start to the year, especially for kids starting primary school or high school, has had the disruption and the waste of time on what was essentially a prank, a joke," she said. 

"Security incidents are very, very rare and what's more of concern for parents are things like having enough school counsellors and having proper funding for our public schools, disability issues, needs-based issues."

ACT Principals Association president Michael Hall, representing public school principals, said physical security of students and staff had not been an issue raised with him, with attention in recent years directed instead to the successful use of fences aimed at protecting school property, usually from vandals. 

Advertisement

He also applauded the trialling of CCTV in two schools, but said neither CCTV nor fences would address the type of threats encountered last week. 

"If government thought tracking technology of some sort was available to put into phone systems then they would obviously recommend that," he said. 

An education directorate spokesman said all schools had emergency management plans which included procedures for evacuations, lockouts and lockdowns. 

"During the various incidents over the past week, schools acted swiftly and in accordance with school emergency procedures and all staff and students responded exceptionally well," he said. 

"As a result of this week's threatening phone calls, no schools in question have requested extra security measures and no phone calls were received by the directorate from parents and carers requesting extra security."

The CCTV trials were conducted in two secondary schools during the summer school holidays to test the impact on vandalism and theft, and the report on the trial was not yet finalised, he said. 

"The current education directorate policy is that CCTV is not installed at public schools," he said. 

The teenager arrested this week will appear before ACT Children's Court at a later date, an ACT Policing spokeswoman said.