Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 6 May 2010) . . Page.. 1852 ..
I would like to thank Dr Sandra Lilburn. She did a fantastic job in putting this report together. We had a lot of evidence and a lot of research. It has been put together in an excellent way and provides some very good recommendations on how to approach this serious issue. I would also like to thank my fellow committee members: Jeremy Hanson; Mary Porter—who had a very difficult job, coming in towards the end of the reporting process and not having taken part in all the hearings; and I thank Mary for her contribution—and Joy Burch, who was part of the hearings. I thank everyone involved in this and again thank all the groups who came and gave their time in giving evidence to the inquiry.
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (11.00): I thank Ms Bresnan, for her words and for her stewardship of the committee, and the other members on the committee. My thanks also to Dr Sandra Lilburn, who again provided outstanding secretariat support, as she has many times before.
I also note the great array of people who made the effort to put in submissions to this inquiry. We received quite a few submissions. The hearings and the people that came before us in this committee were of a very high standard. I will just a mention a few of them: Menslink; the AEU; Professor McConaghy; the Youth Coalition; the Gifted and Talented Support Group; the Principals Association; Trevor Cobbold from Save Our Schools, who always makes his time available; the members of the Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages; and of course the department officials who came and gave us their time. I would like to thank them.
It was a most informative inquiry. We found out about some of the problems that we are experiencing in terms of the achievement gap in education here in the ACT. What we found out quite clearly is that there is a gap in the ACT. We are blessed as a jurisdiction in that both economically and in terms of socioeconomic disadvantage, our numbers are few. But there is a gap for some people in our community, particularly those who have English as a second language, people with Indigenous heritage, refugees and migrants and people with a disadvantage such as a disability. Many people suffer from disabilities. Although we are conducting a separate inquiry at the moment, there is no doubt that they experience an achievement gap probably more profoundly than almost anyone else. And of course there are people with the disadvantage of coming from a low socioeconomic background. It was also interesting to note that there is an achievement gap among people who are gifted and talented—people who could achieve more and in some cases do not.
I will not go into great detail on the report, because the chair has already done that, but the point that is worth emphasising is that, although we in the ACT consider ourselves a lucky jurisdiction, we have to make sure that, when we compare ourselves with jurisdictions such as Victoria and New South Wales, we are comparing apples with apples. Although they may have, in raw numbers, greater numbers of people with disadvantage or people who are not achieving the standard that would be set, when we compare like people in the ACT and like students in New South Wales or Victoria, we see that we are not doing as well in some circumstances. I will just quote from the report: