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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 16 February 2017) . . Page.. 549 ..

So as we start a big conversation with our school communities about the future of education, the need for greater equity will be a constant focus for me. It will be central in answering the question: what do we want and expect from our school and early childhood education systems? Are they providing it and what might we need to change?

For me, the answer is a thriving and inclusive education community where background, culture, gender, class, religion, sexuality, wealth and ability exclude nobody. It is a system where children learn together with others very different from themselves, and we parents also grow from this diversity.

Our schools offer great choice to Canberra families—across the public, Catholic and independent sectors, across different locations and approaches to learning. Alongside this tradition of choice, I believe we need to strengthen the view of schools as community hubs—great places for local children—and encourage parents to take local options.

In the future of education discussion I hope my voice will be one among many. The government will soon start a process of sitting down with a broad spectrum of people to hear their views on these issues, both in and outside what you might consider the typical education stakeholder group.

I will ask community leaders from different fields to act as a reference group for this process to provide a high-level perspective and guide our pursuit of equity. We will also talk with students. I have learnt as a minister the value of chatting with young people about the issues that affect them. They have guided policy change in the sport portfolio and their voices will be important in this process too.

We will also look abroad. Our situation is not unique and there is plenty of analysis of states and provinces in other nations that have faced the challenges that I am speaking of today. As we move through this process I plan to release interim discussion papers to test ideas with the community and I may also seek the support of the Assembly to make change along the way.

At the outset of this process I also want to make clear the connections between this overarching process and other parts of Labor’s election platform. We will strongly tie the future of education process to a strategy for greater access to quality early childhood education and care.

We will continue our commitment and passionate advocacy for needs-based funding and commonwealth funding certainty under the Gonski principles. The ACT is about halfway through an extensive reform process under the national education reform agreement, but it makes it hard to progress this work when we are constantly looking over our shoulder with commonwealth funding uncertainty.

We will use our consultations as a reference point for the engagement of new school psychologists and the completion of recommendations under the schools for all report. We will also seek expert oversight of election commitments in information

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