Security guards at schools in Australia

 

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Security guards at schools in Australia: how common are they?
Thirty years ago, the notion of security staff working full-time at multiple Australian schools
would have seemed fanciful, but the employment of specialist security staff is happening
more and more frequently, and at schools in every state and territory of Australia.
Many schools already employ security staff, but numbers of security staff working at schools
may be set to grow as the ABC reports that 54 schools across Australia can now use
government funds to pay for security guards, according to the Federal Justice Minister.

Some say this is in direct response to the heighted threat of terror both in Australia and
globally but the minister emphasises other factors as contributing.
"I want to stress that there is nothing specific that we are concerned about with any of the
schools we are funding," he said, just that the funds were allocated to assist schools that had
been identified as being at “potential risk of attack” because of racial or religious intolerance,
however the move was not in response to a specific threat, according to the minister.
He says, "This is a confidence building measure to make sure that we've identified schools
that might be at slightly higher risk of having a security problem. I think as long as it is not
invasive, I think prevention is much better than waiting for something to happen and then
acting on it after it has happened,” he said.
Breakdown of schools approved for security guards across Australia:
New South Wales 29
Victoria 15
Western Australia 4
South Australia 2
Queensland 2
Northern Territory 1
Australian Capital Territory 1
The program saw over 100 schools apply, however, around 44 schools were knocked back.
The ABC reports that “the ongoing program saw nearly 100 government, Jewish, Islamic and
independent schools apply for the funding, but only half were successful.” 44 schools were
not given access to funding for the program.
Minister Michael Keenan declared that “all our children have the right to be educated in a
safe and secure setting”.
The recent history of security guards in Australian schools:
According to the Sydney Morning Herald , The Secure Schools Program was introduced
nearly 10 years ago (in 2007) to help ''protect schools that face a special risk of attack,
harassment or violence stemming from racial or religious intolerance''. $35 million was spent
during the period upgrading security at 77 schools across the country.
The 2007 program had been "altered" according to Keenan, to give schools additional
funding to not just pay for security measures like CCTV, but to pay for actual, on-staff
security guards.
"Before we came to government, we made a commitment that we’d be allocating this $18
million," the minister said. "(the program) funds things such as CCTV, improved lighting,
other confidence enhancing security measures. But the change that we’ve made is that it
can now also fund security guards which has been an important piece of the puzzle for some
schools to enhance their security arrangements."
Could you work as a security guard in a school?
These new government programs may indicate that the numbers of security officers and
guards working full-time or part-time at Australian schools could now be on the rise, as well
as new security technologies, such as closed circuit TV.
According to The Conversation , “Many American schools had CCTV cameras in place
before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After the attacks additional surveillance policies were put in
place to respond to the possibility that schools could be a terrorist target.”
Many people in the security industry in Australia are welcoming the funding. Michael Hart,
general manager of ILA Security Services in Victoria says , “Having this funding available
helps to alleviate the financial burden of effective protection for schools under heightened
risk.”
“Only school security guards can provide sufficient level of deterrence to prevent an incident
from happening in the first place. For the parents of any children attending one of these
schools that will now be able to afford having on-site security guards, it means real
peace-of-mind, and most of all to the staff and children attending the school, of course, it
means greatly increased safety.”

Where are the security jobs?
According to the Department of Employment , the most common places to work as a security
officer and guard in Australia are:
Public Administration and Safety* 69.2 %
Retail Trade 4.4 %
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 4.4 %
Arts and Recreation Services 4.3 %