Page 131 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 9 February 2022

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four years to ensure all years 7 to 12 students have access to a Chromebook; $12.5 million over four years to continue the ACT’s nation-leading, 10-year plan for early childhood education, Set Up for Success; a new $11.5 million Future of Education Equity Fund to replace the high school bursary scheme, reaching an estimated five times more students; 25 extra youth and social workers, at a cost of $7.4 million over the next four years, to provide early intervention and support for students and their families; $1.5 million for a two-year trial to provide 1,500 vulnerable students with access to free breakfast and lunch three days a week throughout the year; $450,000 over the next two years to work with young people with disabilities, their families and the broader community to review how public schools deliver inclusive education; and $445,000 to provide free and confidential legal services to public college students.

These initiatives will help make sure that Canberra’s children and young people, regardless of background or circumstance, are better able to engage in school life. To ensure that every Canberra child has access to a great local school, the ACT government has committed significant capital expenditure for new and expanded schools. Key infrastructure projects include $118 million to expand the Margaret Hendry School, which will provide an additional 600 places for preschool to year 6 students and the construction of a new high school at Taylor, which will provide 800 places for students in years 7 to 10; $19.8 million to provide new modular learning centres to increase capacity at ACT public schools; $9 million to plan for the future school infrastructure projects in Gungahlin, Woden, Belconnen, Molonglo, the inner north and the inner south; $2.5 million to plan and design new or expanded schools in Strathnairn, Narrabundah and Garran.

When talking about supporting the ACT economy, it is important that we talk specifically as well about the contribution of Canberra’s women in the ACT’s workforce. This government has committed to women’s economic participation and supporting women to achieve secure paid employment. The ACT government continues to run the women’s return to work grant program, administered by the Office for Women, providing one-off $1,000 grants for women who have been out of work for more than six months. Each year, with these grants this government supports between 150 and 170 women facing additional barriers to returning to the workforce. This support has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACT government also provides $80,000 annually to support the women’s participation grants. In 2020-21 this grant program funded projects focused on women’s participation in the workforce.

In housing, as I outlined yesterday, the ACT government is also overseeing the biggest investment in public housing growth, renewal and maintenance since self-government. In the 2021-22 budget the ACT government also allocated $80 million over three years specifically for public housing repairs and maintenance. This funding supports the delivery of a range of maintenance services, including domestic and family violence-related repairs and security upgrades such as the installation of security doors and window locks; and disability modifications, including the installation of grab rails or ramps.

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