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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 14 August 2018) . . Page.. 2879 ..

in 500, but what happens in the school holidays? That is why we are doing other things, such as investing in services like Menslink and headspace across this city, to make sure that our young people can get support from services through a range of channels. The school psychologist can play a really important role, but they are not the be-all and end-all.

I was also pleased to see that the budget provides more resources for student growth, with a particular focus on needs-based funding for students with a disability. As our population grows, we must provide our teachers and schools with enough resources to cope with the growing demand that naturally flows from this. This budget responds to this need and, in particular, will ensure that students with complex needs are not being left behind. Our schools must be safe, accessible and supportive environments that embrace diversity and ensure that all students can achieve their potential.

This budget makes important investments in student welfare and support services and recognises the need for our schools to keep pace with our growing population. The Greens are pleased to support the education initiatives in the 2018-19 budget.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (4.27): I rise today to speak in support of the education budget measures and expenditure. Our government is proudly progressive. The budget reflects our priorities, with a focus on renewing our schools, planning and building the new schools that our growing city needs, funding more teachers and counsellors to support children’s learning and wellbeing, and providing an investment of $5 billion over the next four years in a modern education system.

As our city grows, our public schooling system is becoming more popular. With close to 48,000 students learning in our public schools, more and more are welcomed each term. It is important that we invest in public education infrastructure with new and expanded schools, more teachers and support for students.

The latest data collected from this year’s ACT schools census reveals an exceptionally strong enrolment rate that has persisted since 2016, with a growth rate of four per cent per annum. The 2018 budget is providing investments and the necessary steps to ensure that a high standard of education is provided to all young people across the territory.

To help meet this growth we are funding additional teaching staff. This year’s budget provides for 66 full-time learning professionals and support staff to help all students in their learning. This $31 million investment in our education system will go where it is needed most and ensure that our schools’ resources grow along with our student population.

The ACT government is committed to inclusive, accessible and high quality education for all students. As our public school enrolment has increased, so too has the enrolment of children that require inclusion support, increasing by 56 students to 2,293 students this year. This represents a 2.5 per cent increase. In our budget we are investing to support students with disability and complex health needs in ACT public schools. An additional $18 million in needs-based funding is provided to ensure growth in enrolments and inclusive education of a high standard.

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