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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 2021) . . Page.. 1514 ..

but the young people do not trust the government. The solution I gave them? Offer them case management by people who they trust. It is that simple.

This is a big part of what I meant two days ago when I called on the government to commit to an extension of care. This is not just about a housing subsidy, as useful as that may be. We must do better at replicating for these kids the benefits of belonging to a family. Foster and kinship carers will need to be involved, as will youth workers and case workers. Our efforts almost certainly will need to include community services providers as well. I have spoken with many of these providers. They currently have a much clearer understanding of how care leavers in the ACT are going than the ACT government does.

The solution to the minister’s problem with data collection is as simple as making sure that care leavers are plugged into a network of people with whom they share a genuine relationship of trust, people who can and will keep a respectful but watchful eye on them.

Federal budget—education

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (5.40): I rise today to reflect on the federal government’s continued egregious attacks on our public education system. Unsurprisingly, Tuesday night’s budget continues to prioritise the big end of town, forgoing the opportunity to truly invest in our public services and systems in favour of lining the pockets of large for-profit companies.

This budget again sees the federal government continue to invest in the privatisation of education, from early childhood right through to tertiary education. Education should never be for profit. We need free and universal public education from every child right through to their retirement. The federal government’s funding of early childhood education falls seriously short of ensuring that we have an education system that captures and protects the most vulnerable.

Thankfully, the ACT government has committed to rolling out universal early childhood education for three-year-olds. The ACT Greens know that this cannot come soon enough. When it comes to early childhood education, Australia is being left behind compared to other OECD countries, many already having moved to universal free preschool for three and four-year-olds.

The overwhelming majority of a child’s brain development happens in the first five years, and research consistently shows that every dollar spent on early learning pays significant dividends that grow out over the life of the individual. It is especially significant for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Public schools are central to our communities and are key to ensure equity of opportunity throughout all Australia. To quote the Federal President of the Australian Education Union, Correna Haythorpe:

… across primary, secondary and TAFE, this Federal Budget fails students in every corner of our nation … Australian public schools are experiencing

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