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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 952..

MR PRATT (continuing):

system must provide the means by which children who otherwise do not have the means to attend these sorts of excursions can do so. They must be able to do that. We will not engage with children at risk if they are stigmatised or allowed to sit out very important activities, particularly where they involve bonding. Therefore, it is so important that this motion sees the light of day and that something is done. To that end, I support this amendment because it encapsulates the substance of Ms Tucker's amendment which, as I said earlier, requires some firm action by the government and sets a deadline by which time they have to report back.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.20): The government will support this amendment. This allows for a holistic look at the issue and certainly I am advised that the minister would have no difficulty with this approach.

MS TUCKER (11.20): I thank the minister and I thank Helen Cross for making this amendment, which picks up the concerns that I had in my amendment. I still do not quite understand why I could not put my amendment, but anyway the result is fine. I just want to put on the record again that any evaluation has to look at, firstly, how well the actual allocation of the equity fund to schools is working in terms of need being met and, secondly, how the schools themselves are distributing that money. By that, I mean culturally as well. I do not just mean who gets the money; I mean the environment, if it is possible to evaluate that. I think it is a really critical point. Thirdly, we need to evaluate whether the amount allocated by the government is adequate to deal with the need in the community.

I realise that the report back date of May 2004 is not that far away, but I think it should be possible to do that work and it will require an evaluation, which means talking to, for example, ACTCOSS. I would talk to them. I would talk to people who are involved in the poverty work in our community. You can definitely talk to schools, teachers, parents and P&Cs, but I would suggest that talking to ACTCOSS would also be useful.

MS DUNDAS (11.22): I will be supporting this amendment as well. I do think that in a very short time we have been able to come up with a motion that all of the Assembly can support and that is a very good thing. I thank Ms Tucker and Mrs Cross for making the point that we do need to investigate the school equity funds and make sure that students are actually accessing them. Our public school system is under a lot of pressure at the moment in terms of funding resources, school based management and teacher resources, but, despite that, it is trying to provide the best education outcomes for our children. We need to support our schools to provide even better educational outcomes for our children and young people by giving them the resources and any extra support they need.

Part of that is about supporting those schools to give those diverse learning opportunities that come from school excursions and from being able to do a diverse range of subjects. That needs to be recognised today. We are also talking about people taking tech courses, home economics, photography and other things that we think are almost part of the core curriculum these days. These courses are quite resource intensive and that is why so many kids cannot do them because they cannot afford those course material fees.

This motion today takes a further step forward to support those families to allow their children to get the diverse educational outcomes they want. I thank Assembly members for their support and for recognising that there are many families out there who will

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