I am pleased to deliver my first Annual Report as Director-General, Department of Education.
Although only in this role since December 2021, I have already witnessed first-hand the dedication and resilience of our employees. Despite the challenges of this year, our staff in schools, regions and corporate offices have been unwavering in their commitment to delivering outstanding results for children and young people across Queensland.
We have maintained our strong focus on giving all children a great start to create the best foundation for lifelong health, wellbeing and learning. Important initiatives, such as Early Years Places and improved kindergarten access through better funding arrangements, ensure all children can participate in high-quality early learning to give them a positive start to their learning journey.
Our schools continue to take a holistic and evidence-informed approach to lift student outcomes and provide safe and inclusive environments.
The wellbeing of our students is essential for them to engage with their learning. Over the year we have continued to roll out the GP in Schools pilot program and continued to recruit a wellbeing workforce to support students in their learning. We have been working closely with Queensland Health, through the opening of new adolescent mental health facilities that include integrated education programs, allowing young people to continue learning while receiving treatment.
Our ongoing commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is a top priority. In 2021–22, we refreshed the Every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Succeeding Strategy and progressed initiatives such as the First Nations' Languages Program.
Continued infrastructure investment ensures we are responding to rapid growth in our communities. In 2021–22, we opened three new schools in Logan, the Sunshine Coast, and the Gold Coast to meet demand and offer contemporary learning environments.
Like many jurisdictions, we face teacher supply challenges and are looking for new ways to attract, recruit and mobilise our teachers. This year we have been targeting teacher mobilisation to fill critical vacancies, and delivering incentives to attract existing professionals to consider teaching as a career-change opportunity.
Embedding robust ethical and integrity practices across the department remains a strong focus. Our Integrity Framework and Integrity Long-Term Plan reflect our zero-tolerance approach to fraud and corruption. In 2021–22, we strengthened our procedures for recruitment and selection, corporate card usage, gifts and benefits, and managing conflicts of interest.
The Office for Industrial Relations has undertaken significant public and industry consultation as part of finalising the review into the Industrial Relations Act 2016 (Qld). The review looked at priority areas including gender pay equity, workplace sexual harassment protections, and minimum employment standards, and represents significant legislative reform.
We continued working closely with Racing Queensland, through critical funding programs such as the Country Racing Program and Racing Infrastructure Fund, which have assisted in maintaining the $1.9 billion contribution that the thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing industries make to the Queensland economy, particularly in regional and rural areas.
While we have achieved so much in 2021–22, there are always opportunities and ways of working that we can explore to push boundaries, innovate, and ensure that our department is best placed to meet the needs of all Queenslanders.
I would like to thank the many employees and stakeholders I have met since my commencement. This year’s Annual Report not only demonstrates the complexity and breadth of our department, but also highlights our many successes.