Page 2934 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (12.03): I am happy to speak to the education commitments in the ACT budget for 2022. At the start, I will note one matter for Mr Hanson’s benefit. It is not something terrible, Mr Hanson; I just suggest that Mr Hanson has a habit of coming into this place and confusing the data that he is provided. I think that is a bit confusing for the community and I just wanted to make a note of that. The data that Mr Hanson used at the start of his speech today around teacher vacancies is point-in-time data. Making comparisons between the types of data is not very helpful. It is not very helpful at all, but you do you, Mr Hanson! It is all good; it is all part of the politics.

But what I did want to talk about is the budget and its record investment in education. As the ACT leads the way, it prioritises equity to achieve results to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, gets the same chance at a great education. Yet again, the ACT government has invested in Chromebooks for public high school and college students, ensuring that they all have equal access to technology-based education that they need to learn in the 21st century. This initiative is a Labor commitment delivered in 2018 and continued into this budget. It takes the financial pressure off families and means that teachers and school staff do not need to troubleshoot across a range of devices. This year we also committed to an additional $6.8 million for more devices for teachers. This means that teachers will not need to share a laptop, even if they are working part-time or job sharing.

I am happy that this budget also delivers the Labor election commitment to support the Winanggaay Ngunnawal Language Group to promote Ngunnawal language and culture in ACT public schools. We know that this will contribute to better outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students for generations to come. It also contributes to our commitment to reconciliation—a way of change that our schools can make every day.

The budget also sees $1.1 million to establish the Safe@School Taskforce. This builds on the previous government’s investments in addressing occupational violence and safety in public schools, because learning cannot happen unless it is put first, and that is what this investment is all about. School cleaners are vital in keeping our schools safe and clean. Their work has never been more important than it was during the pandemic to ensure that our schools were safe and clean. This budget recognises their vital role and sees a permanent expansion to the public school cleaning service, with $17.3 million invested to ensure more secure jobs for this workforce and that the government is in-sourced from 2019.

This budget also demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that every family has the access to a great local school, as Canberra’s population grows and as more people choose public schools. The budget provides $76.7 million for a new public school in the new suburb of Whitlam. This school will have a capacity for up to 800 primary students, and will also provide early childhood education and care services with a 130-place capacity. Whitlam residents can look forward to the school opening its doors in time for the 2025 school year.

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