STATEMENT OF Bianca Bates
16 May 2019
Name Bianca Bates (professionally known as Bianca Smith)
Occupation: Network Specialist Facilitator
On 16 May 2019, I, Bianca Bates, state:
1. This statement made by me accurately sets out the evidence that I would be prepared,
if necessary, to give in court as a witness. The statement is true to the best of my
knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I will
be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated in it anything that I know to be false,
or do not believe to be true.
2. I have a Master of Education (Educational Leadership), Postgraduate Diploma in
Psychology, Bachelor of Education (Primary)/Bachelor of Social Sciences (Psychology),
Graduate Certificate of School Counselling, Graduate Certificate in Developmental
Trauma. I am a Registered Psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioner
Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
3. I have been employed by the NSW Department of Education (the department) as a
Networked Specialist Facilitator since January 2018. Prior to being appointed to that
role I have worked for the department as a School Counsellor (Registered Psychologist)
and before that as a Primary School Classroom Teacher.
4. As a Networked Specialist Facilitator (NSF), I support the strategic work of schools and
the department's School Services.
S. Working alone, no single individual or organisation can solve the underlying social,
health and economic issues that make it harder for some students to succeed at school.
Schools, families, service providers and government organisations need to work
Signature of Witness
together in an increasingly connected way to improve outcomes for our children and
6. As a NSF, I establish and maintain systemic, interagency relationships and build a
sustainable network of specialist support services for schools and an access point for
other agencies to connect with Education in regard to complex matters. Schools, with
the support of specialist staff, use the NSF to effectively and efficiently access and
coordinate interagency supports for students and families/carers, where and when
they are needed.
7. With School Services colleagues I support the coordination of resources to achieve
greater impact for and within schools, including the implementation of initiatives and
professional learning. I provide strategic leadership and undertake planning and
consultation with local education, interagency and community stakeholders and
interest groups to support the work of schools in supporting their students.
8. I work out of the Dubbo Education Office and am available to provide support to the
71 schools in the geographic area between Parkes, Wellington, Dubbo, Mudgee,
Coonabarabran, Brewarrina, Bourke, Coonamble, and Lightning Ridge. Approximately
17, 000 students attend the schools I work with.
9. I was asked to provide a witness statement to the Special Commission of Inquiry into
the Drug "Ice" addressing a number of matters identified by the Commission in a
letter to me dated 6 May 2019.
10. Wherever I have not had direct knowledge of a matter dealt with in this statement I
have relied upon information and advice provided to me by other departmental staff.
The approach the schools I work with take to drug education
11. I am aware that another witness is providing detailed information about the syllabus,
curriculum and teaching and learning resources so will only deal briefly with these issues
in my statement.
12. I am aware that drug education in NSW government schools reflects the whole of
government harm minimisation approach. It aims to promote resilience, and build on
knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to enable young people to make responsible,
healthy and safe choices. Age appropriate drug education forms a part of the mandatory
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Kindergarten to Year 6 and 7 to 10 Personal Development Health and Physical Education
syllabus which is issued by the NSW Education Standards Authority.
13. Students in NSW government schools in Year 11 and/or Year 12 extend this learning
through the 25 hour mandatory Life Ready course.
14. The schools that I work with are able to access external providers to deliver age
appropriate drug education programs for students such as Life Education, who, in
partnership with schools deliver a curriculum based program to preschools, primary and
secondary schools. This includes a positive strength based approach to drug and health
education program delivered via a mobile learning centre.
15. However, in my professional experience, classroom teachers, with specific knowledge
of students and the learning context, are best placed to provide generalist drug
education. Although, external agencies have been engaged successfully on many
occasions in school settings to enhance existing drug education programs and respond
to individual school and student need.
16. As part of preparing this statement I asked some of the schools I work with whether
they are currently working with any external providers around drug education. I have
been advised that the following external agencies work closely with schools in the area
to provide individuals and cohorts of students with identified and targeted learning and
psychoeducation needs - headspace, local Aboriginal Medical/Health Services, NSW
Health, NSW Health School Link and NSW Police.
17. Agencies such as headspace often will present to cohorts of students in secondary
settings around wellbeing, mental health and drug education. Whilst not a specific
'program', as a result of working closely with Learning and Support Teams in schools,
external agencies are able to customise information to support each specific setting and
ensure connectivity with our young people.
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Specific questions about Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) including its prevalence
amongst students and their families, the impact on students and their families and school
communities of its use and
Whether the impact of ATS use is different from the impact of other drugs (for example
compared with alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other illicit drugs
18. I don't know how prevalent the use of Ice is amongst the students that I work with.
However, I am able to comment specifically on my learnings from colleagues,
interagency partners and my own observations/interactions when working with young
people, their families and community.
19. In my professional experience as a Registered Psychologist, in both the NSF and School
Counsellor role, working regularly with young people, whilst the use of 'ice' may be
increasing in the communities I work with cannabis and alcohol are reported to me as
the more frequented substance by students in the schools I work with. Students have
reflected that this is because these substances are viewed more positively socially, less
invasive, easily accessible and perceived to be less harmful.
20. However, regular attendance as the NSW Department of Education representative at
the local Safety Action Meetings (SAM) and my involvement in the Operational Managers
Meeting (OMM) for the Family Investment Model (FIM) Multidisciplinary team illustrate
that the parental and community use is high in certain pockets.
21. My role in both forums is to provide an educational perspective into what are often
complex issues requiring a whole of government response to mitigate risk of harm for
our young people, their families and wider community stakeholders. The FIM OMM is
also a platform for managers within each government agency to review referrals that
have been submitted to the FIM team and approve the allocation of families to work
within this multidisciplinary cross sector team.
22. Reflecting on professional experience, observations, interactions with colleagues,
attendance at interagency meetings, professional learning and direct contact with young
people and their families, I have learnt ATS is readily available, cheap, and gives a
greater 'high' than other substances.
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23. I understand from my attendance at a number of interagency forums (i.e. SAM - where
incidents are discussed in detail to ensure a proactive service system response) that the
use of ATS comes with an increase in anti-social and maladaptive behaviour in the
24. In my professional experience, from behaviours I have observed in young people and/or
their families, the effects of ATS include both the sought after effects, and negative
short-term and long term consequences. The impact of ATS can have both the intended
consequences ( outlined in paragraph 25 below) or adverse consequences ( outlined in
paragraph 26) depending on a number of factors including but