Page 3046 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022

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Education—Future of Education equity grants

MR PETTERSSON: My question is the to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs. Minister, can you please update the Assembly on the progress of the ACT Labor election commitment to support families experiencing disadvantage with their educational expenses?

MS BERRY: I thank Mr Pettersson for his question. Members will know that last month I launched the expanded Future of Education equity fund. This was a key Labor commitment of the 2020 election. We know that not every child has an equal chance at a great education. This fund, though, replaces the secondary bursary scheme, and is now open for all Canberra school students experiencing financial disadvantage. It provides $400 for pre-schoolers, $500 for primary school students and $750 for high school and college students.

The executive officer of the P&C Association, Veronica Elliott, said that this scheme would be a welcome relief for struggling families, and she is right, because, so far, we have seen 1,800 families accessing the fund to help with things like uniforms, excursions and sporting equipment as well as music lessons. We know that not every child comes to school from an equal place, but this fund is about changing that.

MR PETTERSSON: I have a supplementary question. Minister, how can my constituents apply for the Future of Education equity grants?

MS BERRY: This is a really important question, and I encourage members to provide this information to their constituents across the ACT. We have made sure that the application is extended for another four weeks, and will now be open until 31 October so that families can get their applications in before the end of the year. You can go to the Education Directorate website and search for the Future of Education equity fund, or you can check in with your school directly if that works better for you. I also remind members that public, Catholic and independent school students can apply to this fund.

DR PATERSON: Minister, what other initiatives is the ACT Government implementing to reduce inequality in our schools?

MS BERRY: The government’s Future of Education strategy has equity at its core. We know that addressing inequality in our schools is the most powerful way to ensure that every child gets the best possible start to a great education and the life chances that flow from that. It is why the ACT government has funded the Labor election commitments to trial breakfasts and lunches across five public schools in the ACT. We are currently working with schools and stakeholders to get the trial started, and I know the positive impact that this will have on young people. You cannot learn on an empty stomach.

The ACT government is also continuing to fund Chrome books for all public high school and college students, making sure that all students have equal access to the technology that they need to learn. This government will continue to put equity first so that we can keep delivering a great education for every child regardless of their background.

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