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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 3 Hansard (8 March) . .

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Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.


Motion (by Mr Gentleman) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Catholic Schools Week

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (4.53): This week, Catholic schools and churches around the ACT and New South Wales are celebrating Catholic Schools Week. As is usual, there is a theme, and this year's theme is "I belong, you belong, we belong". It is a time of reflection, for students in Catholic schools to celebrate their faith and to reflect on others less fortunate in society.

There are numerous events in schools and churches throughout Canberra this week, and I highlight just some that I will be attending in my capacity as shadow minister for education.

Tomorrow, I feel privileged to be able to join the staff and students at St Michael's Kaleen for a breakfast to celebrate this important time in the Catholic school calendar. The St Michael's breakfast is an annual event and one that I look forward to each year and have attended each year since 2009.

On Thursday, I will be at St Mary MacKillop College for a celebratory mass to celebrate the sesquicentenary, the 150th anniversary, of the Sisters of St Joseph. St Mary MacKillop College, at both of its campuses, has played a significant role in the education of young people in the Tuggeranong area. It is a school that I visited frequently when I was the member for Brindabella, and I continue to take a close interest in it. On Friday I will be in attendance at the annual Catholic Schools Week and recognition awards mass at St Christopher's Cathedral, Manuka.

The February school census data for this year is not yet available, but the February 2015 data indicated that over 18,600 students in the ACT attend a Catholic school, be it an early childhood school, a systemic Catholic school or one of the independent Catholic schools. I can only assume that the numbers this year will be even bigger.

Collectively, that means that approximately 26 per cent of students are educated in a Catholic school. As we know, the ACT is unique in the percentage of the school population that attend a non-government school. And their numbers are growing. In fact, some Catholic schools and other non-government schools could grow more were it not for the fact that they are at maximum enrolment.

In recent years there has been a new Catholic primary school start in Harrison, and St John Paul college has finally been constructed at Nicholls, after much red tape from the ACT government. In addition there are now seven early learning centres at Curtin, Gowrie, Harrison, Holder, Nicholls, O'Connor and Charnwood.

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