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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 3 Hansard (18 March) . . Page.. 1157..


MR SESELJA (continuing):

It also speaks of a bigger story about Catholic education in the ACT. Catholic education, as was mentioned during the MPI discussion earlier this week, has played a significant role in the education of children in the territory. Tens of thousands of children have been educated in Catholic schools in Canberra. The Canberra Liberals certainly believe that that contribution has been a significant one. It has been a very worthy one and has made a major contribution to our territory.

St Michael's is, I think, a fantastic school. It is a fantastic example of a small school that does a very good job. I am not sure of the exact number but I think it is somewhere under 300 students at St Michael's. That would be the number that would have put it in the firing line for closure a couple of years ago had it been a government school. It is a school community that not only instils wonderful values in its students but also achieves excellent educational outcomes. I would like to pay tribute to principal Dave Austin, parents and friends and all of the teachers and staff at the school, as well as all of those who made us feel so welcome and who put on the wonderful breakfast for us yesterday.

Education—special needs

Merici college

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (4.30): I had the pleasure today of meeting with families, teachers and the principal, Ms Jo Karaolis, from St Lucy's school in Wahroonga, New South Wales. The school is part of the Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and provides education specifically for students with a disability.

This group came to Canberra on a mission, a mission to remind the federal government that they have said nothing about children with disabilities when talking up the so-called education revolution. The group rallied today at Parliament House and reminded us all of the role that special skills play in education. They asked the Rudd government a very timely and legitimate question: are they—the special needs schools—considered to be part of the education revolution? And well may they ask.

The number of students with disabilities in every sector increases every year and this must be addressed. While we do not have any non-government special schools in the ACT, many of our non-government schools have a growing number of students with special needs enrolling each year. We need to recognise that the issues facing students with special needs are the same across the education sectors and certainly the same for parents of all children with special needs.

With the conclusion of the ACT Shaddock review into special education, we can see the value of including the non-government sector in the terms of reference—something that Minister Barr tried to stop at every turn for over two months, completely ignoring the logic of including the non-government sector in this review, until the very last moment when he did a now well known and now regular Barr flip—backflip.

I look forward to hearing which of the 68 options provided by the Shaddock review will be implemented by this government. I asked Mr Barr during question time on


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