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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 28 October 2010) . . Page.. 5311 ..


being called a sissy. That is something that Mr Smyth might want to reflect upon at a quieter moment—whether that was really appropriate or necessary in this chamber this afternoon.

That is a small price to pay for being able to continue to improve and adapt the ACT’s education system to meet the changing needs of students. This ACT Labor government has a proud record of investing in education. We are currently investing more than half a billion dollars in upgrading schools and building new schools where they are most needed in Gungahlin, Tuggeranong and soon in the Molonglo Valley development.

Every upgrade is designed to ensure that students with special needs can participate fully in daily school life. Our new schools are also designed to ensure that students with special needs can participate fully. Every time we invest in a facility or service that helps a student with a disability, we assist the teachers who are educating them. Whilst I note the wording of this MPI, for this government the student is at the centre of everything we do in education.

This will not change and I do not apologise to anyone for this. This is particularly the case in the area of disability education. In part, it is because of the growing need. Between 2004 and 2010 the number of special needs students in ACT public schools has increased from 1,606 to 1,869. Over the same period, the average complexity of student need as described by the student-centred appraisal of need has increased from 9.92 to 11.94.

In six years student numbers have increased by 16 per cent and the complexity has increased by 20 per cent. To meet this need, we have invested heavily. I would like to take a moment now to outline some of the measures that have been put in place over the last few years. The 2010-11 budget provided $1.6 million of additional funding over four years to meet increasing needs and the numbers of students with a disability.

Those opposite who have claimed loudly to care about students with disabilities voted against this funding increase. In 2009-10 Labor provided an additional $4 million over four years to non-government schools to assist students with special education needs. Again, the Liberals voted against this. In 2009-10 the budget contained three-quarters of a million dollars to refurbish the Turner school hydrotherapy pool. Students with special needs have benefited greatly from this upgrade. Again, the Liberals voted against it.

At Black Mountain school, numbers have increased from 82 students in 14 classrooms in 2004 to 110 students in 18 classrooms in 2010. Additionally, the student cohort changed significantly. This is reflected in the number of students who are wheelchair reliant increasing from eight to 38. To accommodate these changes it was necessary for the school to systematically upgrade its infrastructure. This work included minor projects such as improving classroom access with wider doors to upgrading bathrooms with safer disabled facilities.

Larger-scale projects included the relocation of two transportable buildings to provide additional classrooms, recreation areas, teacher preparation areas, meeting rooms and


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