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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 November 2018) . . Page.. 5022 ..

While there is no doubt that overseas language study has social and economic benefits to ACT school students, the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, culture and histories is not lost in ACT public schools. It is vital that the Australian community grows in respect, understanding and knowledge about the language, culture and history of traditional custodians of the land and Australia’s first language. The government has given this focus.

At Belconnen High School there is a program in development that incorporates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and languages. This program is being developed in consultation with Aboriginal students, their families, academics in Indigenous studies and linguistics, as well as local elders. The pilot program has been successful and work is continuing that will expand the program to an elective subject in the school.

I had the opportunity to visit the school and to join the group as they participated in this class. Additionally, there are other schools that are looking to adopt this program, including at a college level. The Board of Senior Secondary Studies has been working closely with the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on a college course for this purpose. There is also work underway to support language education for young children, which I am happy to hear Ms Lee has apprised herself of.

Early Learning Languages Australia, ELLA, is a commonwealth government funded app-based language program that is used in preschools across Australia. In 2019 there will be expansions of the newly developed ELLA program for kindergarten to year 2 students. This program is aligned to the Australian curriculum. There are a number of schools in the ACT that are currently participating in the 2018 trial. Arabic is one of the languages that is available through this program.

All nine ACT colleges provide languages as an elective study. These languages provide pathways to universities. Language students are able to attain bonus points towards their ATAR for some relevant university courses across Australia. There are approximately 2,800 students who are undertaking language as an elective subject in years 9 to 12. The decision regarding the choices of language offered in ACT schools sits with the principal of each individual school, in consultation with the school board. The school community has a voice through the school board, the representative members of parents, students, teachers and other independent members.

Madam Speaker, it is important to note the engagement of the community and the decisions of the schools in ensuring that education programs meet the needs of those individual school communities. I have moved an amendment. I ask the Assembly to support my amendment to Ms Lee’s motion.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for City Services, Minister for Community Services and Facilities, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Roads) (6.05): The ACT has a strong history of valuing and promoting our cultural diversity. The government is committed to strengthening inclusion and cohesion to ensure that all Canberrans are fully able to participate in our community. This includes acknowledging and supporting the learning of languages. Learning and sharing

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