Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 December 2011) . . Page.. 5693 ..
Mr Hargreaves: On the point of order, Mr Speaker, when a minister is appointed under the AAOs, the minister has no personal views; they are the views of the government of the day. And when we have a new minister the community is entitled to know the government of the day’s priorities—have they changed or have they not? So my question to the minister is: what are those priorities?
MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Minister Bourke, you are free to continue with your answer.
DR BOURKE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. As Minister for Education and Training I believe that we must use our existing assets in the knowledge economy to build the clever capital where ideas are grown and then marketed to the world. Just this week we have seen media coverage about the development of knowledge and business innovation in the ACT. Canberra is uniquely placed to do this as it is home to at least five universities, depending on how you count, the CSIRO as well as other research institutions, and the Canberra Institute of Technology.
Education is about more than the tertiary sector. One of my priorities is to see continued innovation and choice for families. We now have public schools in the ACT which offer early childhood education and care, preschool and junior primary school. Playgroups and parent groups are also supported. We have started a seamless approach to education from cradle to work, and I want to ensure that we continue to meet the emerging needs of families.
Our P-10 schools offer continuity. Students are able to complete their primary and high school education with the same cohort of peers. For many students the transition from primary to secondary is more stable and secure. It is a feature which many parents find attractive in Canberra and it has always been available to those attending some non-government schools. It is now a part of Canberra’s public school system and adds to the options available for families, providing diversity and choice.
Another priority is continuing the good work that has already been done in helping to close the gap in educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. I am pleased that the portfolio of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs is also one of my new responsibilities. I look forward to continuing the work of the previous minister Andrew Barr and working with the education directorate, schools, principals and teachers to continue to deliver the best public education system in the country.
I also acknowledge the excellent work done in non-government schools and will continue to foster interactions between the two systems.
MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Hargreaves.
MR HARGREAVES: Minister, since you mention closing the gap as one of your priorities, what is the ACT doing about closing the gap in educational outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students?