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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3255..


Questions without notice

School exercise programs

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to Ms Gallagher, the minister for education. Minister, there is a requirement in our school system that each student in years 3 to 10 undertake 150 minutes of physical exercise per week and each student in kindergarten to year 2 undertake 20 to 30 minutes a day. Shelley Rowe, from ACTSPORT questioned your department's commitment to this policy on WIN TV last night, when she said, "That policy is not being effectively implemented."

On 11 October 2000, your colleague Mr Berry, who was then the education spokesman, promised to review schools sport because, according to him, "there had been a lot of adverse feedback regarding increased compulsory sport". Minister, why are you failing to implement the policy effectively, given that childhood obesity is a rapidly growing problem in our society?

MS GALLAGHER: The department of education is implementing compulsory physical education times. It has certainly not been drawn to my attention by anyone that that is not the case. In fact, I have had discussions with officials from the department about it because I share Mr Berry's concerns about compulsory physical education times and whether they are actually achieving what they set out to do. I am not convinced of it.

There is a whole range of things that need to be done to encourage physical health and wellbeing in our children, and the Minister for Health and I are looking at ways to improve support to children in schools to lead healthy lifestyles. What the previous government implemented in terms of compulsory physical education times is still in place in schools. Whilst I am considering having a look at it, it certainly has not been changed since you were minister.

MR STEFANIAK: I have a supplementary question. What contingency plans have you made for when local ovals become unsafe for school sport because of the government cutting maintenance of them dramatically after 1 October?

MS GALLAGHER: There are certainly no problems with children using school ovals at the moment and none in the near future that have been drawn to my attention. As it is now, children are able to access school ovals. I will have further discussions with ministers if further water restrictions mean that our school ovals cannot be used.

There are a variety of places around schools where children take part in physical education, not only on school ovals but also in halls and on playgrounds. Even if we were to restrict use of some school ovals due to the condition they might be in, I cannot see that it would have an impact on a school's ability to provide the compulsory times required. Looking at a bigger picture, I do not see that a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing in schools will be affected by whether or not children can use school ovals.


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