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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (28 November) . . Page.. 5029 ..


that she has completely scrubbed my call for her to explain why her future of education strategy does not even mention language education. If she cannot even explain how she has made such a glaring failure, in failing to include language education in her 10-year education blueprint, really, she has no business being the education minister.

I implore the minister to consult with the community, our language teachers, our parents and our children about the language needs of our future generation. She is so keen on conversations, yet she has missed a great opportunity to consult properly on this important aspect of education.

When I discussed my motion with the ACT Community Language Schools Association, Dr Fuxin Li, the president, said:

We believe in this global and international world that languages are the key that open many doors. Children are naturally inquisitive about languages, particularly the amazing range that are spoken locally. Community language schools give children the opportunity to learn new languages, or—indeed—to solidify the grasp and comprehension of the non-English language that they speak at home through training, conducted outside of school hours, in a professional atmosphere which values education, diversity, and mutual respect.

Community language schools carry out a wide variety of roles and functions. They are geared towards meeting the needs of a broad range of learner needs and skill levels, from the novice to those who are experienced in languages.

It is imperative, then, that these schools remain adequately funded, in order to reap the maximum benefits out of the programs, activities, and events that they offer the broader Australian community. Their absence would leave a gaping hole in the cultural fabric of Australian life, with isolation and marginalization of ethnic cultures and communities replacing integration and celebration of difference.

I have enormous respect for Dr Li and the association for their dedication to, and expertise in, keeping languages alive in our community. I would hope that the minister does also. The association is a great resource that the government should be engaging with to ensure that we address any gaps in our language education.

Other external resources include organisations like the Canberra Academy of Languages, which commenced in 2017 and provides courses for year 11 and 12 students to continue learning in their chosen languages where these courses are not available through their schools or other providers. Again this is clear evidence of service delivery failure by this government. It is wonderful that such opportunities exist for senior students, but, as Ms Lawder just pointed out, it should be available to the broader network of students; and, of course, it does involve a financial cost for parents and logistics issues. They are offering a service that the government school system ought to be delivering, and should be supported by the government.

This government should provide more support for our language teachers. A second language, and the skills to teach a second language, should be highly desirable skills


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