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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 30 June 2011) . . Page.. 3112 ..


The Greens have long supported increased access to school-based therapy services. We welcome the trial of school-based therapy assistants announced in this budget. This is the first but nonetheless important step to integrating therapy services within schools. This of course sits in the Community Services Directorate, and I will speak about it further when we get to that directorate.

In line with the suggested outcomes of the Shaddock review, the Greens believe that there should be designated therapists attached to ACT special schools. A holistic view within disability education yields the best results. If a student has considerable speech and language issues and does not receive regular therapy sessions then their learning will be compromised. In discussions with a number of parents, they cite school-based therapists, namely a speech pathologist and occupational therapist, as health professionals who would bring major benefits to the learning outcomes of their children. The flow-on effects of improvements in learning cannot be underestimated.

It is pleasing to hear Minister Barr mention students with a disability reaching their full potential and that “lifelong opportunities are available to all”. Too often we hear from parents and carers with children with disabilities who find once their child is a young adult they have few options available to them. The Greens support well-resourced transitional programs that have a strong focus on life skills and appropriate participation. It is well known that students with a disability need support as they transition from school to independent living. Whilst this is not possible for everyone, for some, life skills are the most valuable and important to their future success.

These programs and services are also funded under the Community Services Directorate but it is important, particularly with the move to a single public service model, that Education and Training and the Community Services directorates liaise closely to ensure smooth transitions from education into employment or other post-school options.

We note in this year’s budget the funding for career advancement for public sector teachers. The Greens support the career advancement for accomplished teachers as long as it is based on excellence rather than teaching outcomes of universal tests. I believe the funding allocation will cater for just fewer than 100 teachers, and this is not ideal. A quota system may cause resentment among teachers. Whilst the Greens support rewarding our most accomplished leaders, a quota seems problematic.

The Greens are concerned that whilst this is a prudent budget, the wages of territory teachers need to be addressed. ACT teachers remain, in nearly all categories, the lowest paid teachers in the country. Even when a three per cent pay rise is applied, over 50 per cent of all ACT teachers would still be the lowest paid teachers in the country. The government offer of three per cent per year for four years has been rejected by the AEU, the Education Union, but it is important to understand that even when this increase is added, 1,343 teachers at the top of the classroom teacher level would still be the most poorly paid compared to their interstate counterparts.

One needs to remember that these teachers have eight or more years experience and they must be valued. If we are to achieve the vision of ensuring students have a “safe


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