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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 456..


MS GALLAGHER: Thank you for the question, Mr Cornwell. This issue of the timing of the work at Birrigai is still unclear. It is a matter of insurance. It was insured. The department and I also want to have some broad consultations about how we rebuild Birrigai. It was an older building, so I think there are great opportunities in terms of future design for Birrigai and for the involvement of the community, our indigenous people and our young people in the process. I think that Birrigai, and the rebuilding of Birrigai, will become a very important part of the recovery process in Canberra.

You are right-it has been a very important part of educational opportunities for many young people in the ACT. I certainly remember it fondly after attending school camps and musical camps there, myself, as a student-apart from the emus that came into the sleeping areas, which I didn't like very much.

There has certainly been a rallying of the broader community-including the education union and other stakeholders-all of whom want to get together to put forward some ideas for Birrigai. We have to pull that together and work out a plan. It will have to be a longer term plan. There is also the issue of the location of Birrigai and whether there is a better place for Birrigai in the national park. Discussions about that still have to be held.

In the short term, the question is where do we have outdoor educational opportunities for young people from now on, when it is urgently required. The department is looking at a couple of options in relation to that, and at how we can get some camps going so that the young people who were booked for those camps at Birrigai do not miss out this year.

MR CORNWELL: There is a supplementary question, which the minister has partly answered. Is the immediate future of the programs that are normally conducted at Birrigai under examination at the moment?

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, that is right, Mr Cornwell. There are a couple of sites being examined, such as the Dairy Flat farm and Outward Bound at Tharwa, but discussions about those are ongoing. Again, there is broad community support, and support from the department, for getting things moving as soon as we can, while we all work together for the longer term, for Birrigai.

Birrigai Outdoor Education Centre-relocation

MR PRATT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Education and follows on from the other question about outdoor education. Minister, can you confirm that Outward Bound Australia has offered to house all staff and programs from Birrigai at its location at Tharwa? Can you advise the Assembly, if you are aware of any delays that would prevent the government immediately accepting this offer?

MS GALLAGHER: I cannot confirm the exact nature of the offer made by Outward Bound. That certainly has not been brought to my attention, if that organisation has made such an offer. I can confirm that the department is having discussions about, and looking at options for, the best way to provide outdoor education opportunities to young people. There is certainly no intention to delay those decisions.


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