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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1518..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

My ancestry on my grandfather's side is Bidjara from the central western part of Queensland and my ancestry on my grandmother's side is Kabi-Kabi.

It is pleasing to see the variety of ways in which schools are tackling the notion of reconciliation and valuing this diversity within the ACT community. The Services to indigenous people action plan describes four commitments that show our determination to make a positive difference to the life of local indigenous young people.

Mr Speaker, I want to draw several key points to the attention of members. I will speak to the four commitments from Within reach of us all: services to indigenous people action plan 2002-2004. Overcoming racism and valuing diversity: in the six-month period this report covers, many more school-based anti-racism contact officers for students have been trained and a wide-ranging policy has been put in place to resolve complaints. Even greater emphasis has been placed on employment issues for indigenous people with the introduction of a formal plan for further enhancing equity and diversity in the workplace.

Forming genuine and ongoing partnerships with indigenous communities: members will remember the ACT indigenous education compact, which defines the commitment to indigenous students and their needs, and the partnership between the community and the department in addressing those needs. Many schools have drawn on indigenous community members to be part of a ceremony to introduce the compact and demonstrate that partnership. These public acts recognise the importance of the compact and the need to continually strive to achieve educational improvements for indigenous students.

While I understand that the Aboriginal and Student Support and Parent Awareness committees are funded through an Australian government program, it is recognised that ACT government staff provide support to these groups and are the source of many indigenous-related activities. The number of established committees has risen, reflecting a growing awareness of the role ASSPA committees can play. For example, the ASSPA committee for the Lanyon cluster of schools arranged a full program of cultural events for an indigenous students' reconciliation celebration day. Many schools outside that cluster took part, including a bus load of students from Jervis Bay School. This government supports the Billabong Aboriginal Corporation's work and its programs are expanding to cater for troubled indigenous youth.

Creating safe, supportive, welcoming and culturally inclusive education and service environments: I mentioned in the introduction the extensive range of cultural activities already occurring in schools. NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Day continue to be a source of inspiration for these events. However, it is most interesting to note that these activities are taking place more and more, not just on the prescribed dates, but throughout the year.

Just reading through the lists of things that schools are doing clearly demonstrates a growing commitment by schools to an indigenous curriculum, and shows members the rich and varied characteristics of life in our schools. An exciting indigenous community project that the government has supported is the development of a set of story books for the younger age group. The books promise to be an exciting locally produced indigenous resource.


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