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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 1810..


Special Schools

MR WOOD: I think there are a few questions yet to be asked about that business we have just heard about. My question is directed to Mr Stefaniak as Minister for Education. Mr Stefaniak, can you guarantee that, as you promised during the election campaign, you will not close or wind back the operation of special schools in the ACT?

MR STEFANIAK: Excuse me, sir. "Special" comes under "S", does it not? Yes. That would be your next comment, I imagine.

Mr Humphries: Look under "S" for "silly question".

MR STEFANIAK: Yes, I think so. Mr Wood, in relation to special education, I think again I have - - -

Mr Wood: I do not want just the script.

MR STEFANIAK: You will get the script and you will get a few other things as well. If you just shut up and listen, you will get a few things. In fact, we might even be voting the same way on something in November, I understand.

Mr Speaker, the Government is certainly not reviewing special education in terms of cutting resources. The Government is committed to ensuring that all students with disabilities receive an appropriate education. Indeed, a report by Dr Loretta Giorcelli recently recommended a review. Pending the outcome of the review, the Government will maintain all the existing programs and, as I think I said to the Estimates Committee, will provide the opportunity for four new students to join the integration program in 1996. As I indicated, the recent evaluation of the integration program by Dr Giorcelli recommended the review. We are responding to that and to the compelling need to examine the relationship between the special and mainstream school settings for students with disabilities. This Government believes that education is the right of all children, and we will maintain our efforts in that area. What the review is intended to provide is a more effective way to use existing resources. The review will commence this year, and it is proposed to have it finalised early next year so that its findings can inform and influence the 1996-97 budget process.

MR WOOD: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Perhaps if Mr Stefaniak gave the Opposition his briefs we could ask the question that would allow him to answer properly, but that is not the way we operate. Mr Stefaniak said that all students needing special education will receive appropriate education. Why then, Minister, are you reducing the impact of the integration program? I heard you say to the Estimates Committee that, instead of six or more students per year, you will be enrolling only four additional students next year. I ask especially, because in this place about a year ago the person presently in the chair complained bitterly about 45 or 47 students being on the waiting list.


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