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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 229..


MR WOOD (continuing):

of next week, and at very modest cost because they are simply overlays. The signs would use short slogans found effective in other places-signs like "Wear your seatbelt", "Speeding is dangerous", "Don't drink and drive" and "Don't tailgate". This would be a positive initiative for the ACT in road safety.

Thank you, Mrs Cross, for reminding us of those signs. We will use them.

Special teaching assistance for disabled students

MS DUNDAS: My question is to the minister for education, Mr Corbell. I have had representations from parents of disabled students at Latham Primary School about a drastic reduction in special teaching assistance support for students in the learning support units at that school. Can you advise the Assembly whether the department is intent on reducing educational services by way of STA support to the students in Latham learning support units, and why? If they are, what reasons justify any decision and was expert advice sought on the effect and wisdom of the refusal to maintain the special teaching support at levels needed?

MR CORBELL: I am not aware of the specific circumstances at Latham, Ms Dundas. I undertake to find out for you and get some information back to you, hopefully before the close of business today.

In relation to learning support units more generally, I am aware that there are a significant range of concerns. In particular, I am aware of the examination and report put together by the Australian Education Union on behalf of teachers in those units, as well as the parents of students in those units. That report raises a number of questions and a number of issues about the adequacy of staffing and resources.

I have asked the department of education to examine that report and provide a response to me on the matters raised in it. Once I have received that briefing and that analysis from the department, I will be considering what options are open to the government to address any issues coming out of that report that need further work.

In relation to the Latham issue, I will endeavour to get back to you as soon as I can.

MS DUNDAS: I have a supplementary question. Minister, considering your government's commitment to spend inside the school gate the money that was once spent on the school bus scheme, will some of this money be spent on supporting autistic students in schools, students who are regarded as among the most in need, requiring most intensive support?

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Be careful about executive policy, Mr Minister.

MR CORBELL: Yes, thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The money that has been set aside by the government from the Liberals' free school bus scheme for education purposes will be considered in the context of issues such as those Ms Dundas has raised. I am interested in focusing strongly on the needs of particular students-students at risk as well as the students with autism and students in learning support units whom Ms Dundas has highlighted today. Autism is perhaps one of the most difficult issues in our education system and I will be focusing quite carefully on the options for the


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