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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 9 Hansard (4 September) . . Page.. 2900..

Report on School Without Walls


Report on School Without Walls - Government Response]

Debate resumed from 10 December 1996, on motion by Ms Tucker:

That the report be noted.

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with order of the day No. 2, Assembly business, relating to the Government's response to the Standing Committee on Social Policy report on the School Without Walls? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 1 they may also address their remarks to order of the day No. 2, Assembly business.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Training) (11.59): Mr Speaker, on 7 May this year I presented the Government's response to the Social Policy Committee report on the School Without Walls. You will recall that I advised the Assembly that the Government had relocated the School Without Walls, or SWOW, as it was known, to Dickson College in April of this year because of its responsibility to provide the best possible education for all students. As I had signalled on numerous occasions in this place, this had not been happening at the Reid site. The Government's response outlined to the Assembly the problems associated with SWOW at its Reid site. These problems served to fuel the concern of the department and the Government that students at SWOW were not being provided with adequate education programs. It was abundantly clear that a properly organised and managed alternative program was required to meet the needs of some of the students at SWOW.

The Supreme Court's action of granting an interim injunction delayed the relocation of SWOW to the Dickson site. It did not, however, prevent the establishment of an alternative education program at Dickson and, indeed, many of the SWOW students enrolled there when it was opened. Following the discharge of the interim injunction, SWOW was officially relocated to Dickson College. Students still enrolled at SWOW had the opportunity to continue their education at several different institutions. These included the alternative and mainstream programs at Dickson College, Narrabundah College and the Canberra Institute of Technology. Students received advice and counselling to assist in their adjustment to their new environments. Students were visited by a former SWOW teacher, who in turn liaised with the new teachers. The department continues to monitor the progress of former SWOW students and is ever ready to respond to any educational problems encountered by them.

Most of this is now history and I do not intend to waste members' time in recapitulating those events. Instead, I would like to focus on the present and bring you up to date on the Dickson operation. This program is operating most successfully, Mr Speaker.

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