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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 2 August 2018) . . Page.. 2662 ..

As a former education minister, I am aware of how our education laws in the ACT can impact on the choices parents make regarding their children’s education. Members would be aware that the Education Amendment Bill 2017 is currently before the Assembly. Without pre-empting a future debate, I take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of genuine and sufficient community consultation with the sector being directly impacted before the bill is debated.

I acknowledge the concerns of community groups such as the Home Education Association about aspects of the bill, including the removal of the provisional registration process. The details outlined in the regulations will be important for allowing the community to understand what the practical impact of these proposed changes will be and ensure that they, and we, can make an informed decision about this issue. I hope that once the regulations are released the community will have sufficient time to consider and be consulted on them.

It is the responsibility of government to ensure the provision of high quality, well-resourced and safe learning environments that are open to all students. Once these options are available, parents should then be able to make informed choices about the education of their child. But choice is not just a matter of providing a range of options. A range of options needs to be accessible and affordable for all members of our community.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (4.17): I thank Ms Lee for bringing this matter to the Assembly today. This is an important issue for the Assembly to discuss because it goes to the core of what our community decides school education should be.

As members would be aware, I am a proud product of Canberra’s public school system. As a child I attended a number of local public schools, first at O’Connor co-op and Turner Primary, as it was then, now Turner School, then at Lyneham High School and Dickson College.

I am proud to be part of a government that is continuing Canberra’s long tradition of quality public schools and public education. I am proud to be a member of a government that is focused on educational equity, and I know that Minister Berry is resolute in her pursuit of equitable outcomes for every child who attends an ACT school. I have had the opportunity to visit a number of local schools in my capacity as a minister and a member representing Kurrajong.

We all know that quality school education provides the best chance to prevent those who are confronting disadvantage from being trapped by it. A good education will not benefit only a child but also improve the lives of their children and grandchildren. As I said in my first speech in this place, I have always understood that I came from a privileged background. That privilege is in part the depth of education that my parents and grandparents were privileged to have.

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