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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 2 August 2018) . . Page.. 2656 ..

Parents in Gordon have told us that their 12 and 14-year-olds will have to walk 25 minutes carrying heavy schoolbags to Lanyon shops, and they are very concerned that these local shops will become a hangout for school gangs and creeps preying on vulnerable children. Parents in Hawker and Macgregor are worried about what is going to happen when children from all different schools, of all different ages, are lumped together at public interchanges.

Parents with children at different schools in Dickson have told us that their kids currently catch the same school bus, and that under the new bus network that will no longer be possible. Again this is impacting on parents’ choice to send siblings to neighbouring schools.

The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations has said that parents still have a strong preference for dedicated school bus services. The Association of Independent Schools have described the cuts to school buses as a foundational change that will hit their schools and the children that attend them particularly hard, because their students tend to use buses more often and from a much younger age than those in the public system. They have also hit out at the lack of information that the government has provided on the impact that these changes will have. Principals are worried for their students about what will happen when they all rush out at the end of the school day and there is no room on the next public bus.

The Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools have also raised serious concerns about duty of care. They have said that, especially for younger children, the government is just throwing these kids in at the deep end and waiting to see what happens. Parents want an unbroken chain of duty of care that passes from themselves, to the school bus driver, to the teachers at their children’s schools. The Labor-Greens government’s cuts to school buses are breaking this chain and disrupting the duty of care. How is it that this government can provide buses for Mardi Gras, almost 300 kilometres away, but not for Canberra schoolchildren?

Many parents across Canberra have chosen where to live and where to send their children to school based on access to school buses. Now the Labor-Greens government is taking that choice away from them. The Labor-Greens government is making it harder for parents to choose Catholic and independent schools. The government is making it more difficult for parents to rely on buses instead of driving their children to school. The Labor-Greens government is making it more difficult for parents and carers to choose to work, as many have told us that they will be adjusting their work hours so that they can drive their children to school.

By restricting access to schools, the Labor-Greens government is restricting parents’ ability to make informed choices about how and where their children are educated.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (4.00): I welcome the chance to talk about our schools, and thank Ms Lee for bringing forward this very important matter of public

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