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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 951..


MRS CROSS (11.16): I seek leave to move an amendment circulated in my name.

Leave granted.

MRS CROSS: I move:

Insert the following paragraph:

"(3) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) take immediate action to ensure that equity funds are made available through the schools to all students who need them for these reasons; and

(b) report back to the Assembly in May 2004.".

I understand what Ms Dundas is saying given that I get from her the comments that the purpose of the bursary scheme has changed. My understanding was that the bursary system was to provide support to the disadvantaged so that they have the same opportunities for a core education. I hear what Ms Dundas is saying, that the criteria for that have changed over the years. If that is the case, that is something the government can look into later on. Given, however, that we all agree in this place that there is an urgent need, my amendment calls on the ACT government to take immediate action to ensure that the equity funds that exist at the moment are made available through the schools to all students who need them for these reasons, and to report back to the Assembly in May 2004.

This addresses what was going to be Ms Tucker's amendment to this motion. I fully supported Ms Tucker's amendment because it was a very good amendment, but for practical reasons I have moved this in order for us to be able to move forward and do what is good for the students who are being disadvantaged, and do it as soon as possible.

This is a very important addition to what Mr Corbell was attempting to do, and I think in its entirety this will hopefully go some great length towards addressing the concerns that Ms Dundas has by her motion, and assisting the students that have been disadvantaged out in the community. No student should be disadvantaged; Ms Dundas is absolutely right. Nobody in here wants to see students disadvantaged. For a child to miss out on an excursion because they do not have enough money, because they come from a poor family, is just unacceptable in this community. That is why we are a community.

I know the government want to do the right thing in this case. I know everybody in this place wants to do the right thing. I think we can all move forward in a unanimous way, and I hope that this amendment, thanks to Ms Tucker's original amendment, will go some way to addressing our concerns.

MR PRATT (11.18): We will support Mrs Cross's amendment. In my view, this certainly will require a clearer and firmer action on the part of the government. I am glad the government are prepared to now investigate this issue.

I reinforce the point, too, that, if the school system is going to engage children whom we identify as children at risk, it is absolutely clear that the government and the education


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