Page 2929 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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Before noting and speaking on what is to come, I think it is important to outline the important work which has been supporting our students and their families through the ACT government’s ongoing pandemic response. Indeed, I am proud to say that to ensure continuity of learning for our young people almost 1,000 public school students were provided with internet services during the COVID-19 remote learning period. More than 25 schools have received new external shade structures to provide external learning facilities, and more than 500 three-year-olds experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage have been referred into the quality early childhood education for three-year-olds initiative. These are all critical initiatives which will continue to positively impact children and families across the ACT, and I commend the minister and the ACT government and public servants involved in their implementation.

Last census, the ABS reaffirmed that the ACT has had the fastest growing population of any jurisdiction over the last 10 years, with an increase of 23 per cent between 2011 and 2021. In fact, the top three suburbs with the largest growth in the ACT include Bonner, Moncrieff and Casey, all of which fall within my electorate of Yerrabi. I am delighted to advise that the children, students and families of Yerrabi, and their city more broadly, can expect even more investments in education over the next few years, from this budget, to support our growing need.

For instance, this budget provides $240 million in additional funding over four years to support education and skills, including investments in initiatives such as additional support to ensure continued access to 15 hours per week, 600 hours per year, of free public preschool education for all four-year-old children living in Canberra; extending and refreshing Study Canberra to focus on partnering with our tertiary education institutions to help the recovery of this sector; and laptop devices for all teachers, casual relief teachers and administrative staff based in ACT public schools. I am particularly excited about this one. As members of this place will know, I previously moved to prioritise digital access and inclusion through the Libraries ACT Imagine 2030 co-design process, and it is very encouraging to see that digital access and inclusion continue to be prioritised in our public education system.

As I mentioned earlier, Yerrabi is indeed going to benefit from this budget, due in no small part to our exceptional rate of population growth and meeting that need. This includes $165 million in additional funding for new and expanded schools across Yerrabi, such as the additional funding for the construction of a new high school in Taylor, providing 800 places for students, and the expansion of the Margaret Hendry School, delivering 600 more places. Indeed, there will be $700 million invested in the schools’ infrastructure over five years, with many investments set to be finalised between 2025 and 2026, all building on what we have already seen to date, such as the opening of Throsby School, the completion of the Franklin School expansion, the Amaroo School expansion and the Gold Creek senior campus expansion.

In 2023, we can expect to see the completion of the Margaret Hendry School expansion, featuring learning spaces for general learning settings; specialist learning settings, including food technology, science and technology, engineering, art, and maths; and small group programs. In 2024, we will see the east Gungahlin and the Taylor high schools opening, with Taylor offering general and specialist learning

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