Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 August 2018) . . Page.. 2951 ..
primary; Florey primary; Garran primary; Good Shepherd primary; Gordon primary; Harrison; Hawker primary; Holy Trinity primary; Kaleen primary; Kingsford Smith; Lanyon high; Latham primary; Lyneham high; Macquarie primary; Majura primary; Monash primary; Mother Teresa Catholic primary; Namadgi; Narrabundah College; Narrabundah early childhood; Neville Bonner primary; Ngunnawal primary; Palmerston district primary; Red Hill primary; Rosary primary; Sacred Heart primary; St Bede’s primary; St Benedict’s primary; St Clare of Assisi primary; St Francis of Assisi primary; St John Vianney’s primary; St Joseph’s primary; St Matthew’s primary; St Michael’s primary; St Thomas Aquinas primary; St Vincent’s primary; Sts Peter and Paul primary; Theodore primary; Torrens primary; Turner; University of Canberra high, Kaleen; Wanniassa primary; and Weetangera primary.
This means that students as young as five will be forced to get on a bus with regular commuters, many having to change at bus interchanges and many commutes involving a walk from home to the bus stop and a walk from the bus stop to school.
I have not met a single parent or a single school principal who is supportive of these changes. The fact is that most parents are uncomfortable sending their young children to school on public buses, and this is for myriad reasons. What if they miss their stop? Will they get off too early or too late or get lost? Will they be safe? The reality is that when children as young as five are forced on public buses, the chain of duty is broken.
On a dedicated school bus, a parent or guardian may wait with their child at a bus stop. Once their child is on the bus, the parent can be reassured that the bus will go straight to the school entrance. Once their child arrives at the school, the parent can be reassured that their child will be under the care of their principal and teacher. How can this tight chain of duty be upheld if students as young as five are being forced onto public buses? This is a serious safety concern. We have working with vulnerable people checks for all bus drivers for exactly that reason. If we are going to trust drivers with schoolchildren the government must ensure they are safe.
The government insists that the provision of TCCS officers at interchanges will assist students to make their connections. But how does this government expect TCCS staff to take care of the hundreds of children flowing through interchanges, and for how long will this happen?
Finally, I take this opportunity to directly communicate some comments I have received from parents to the minister so that I can be absolutely sure she hears them. A parent from Kambah commented that her child’s school bus is full each day but that has not stopped the bus from being cancelled. She points out that kids with a heavy bag, gym gear and a musical instrument will take time to get on and off the bus and that grown-up patrons will be significantly less understanding of the time it takes for young kids to get on and off the bus.
A parent from Red Hill primary has contacted me. Currently school buses which service that school drop students directly at the school’s entrance. However, the replacement bus will drop kids on the street and force five-year-olds to negotiate the busy school car park. This car park is risky at the best of times, but the removal of