Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2880 ..
actually notes a decrease in FTE numbers in the Education Directorate—from 6,553 last financial year to a predicted 6,365 this financial year—a fall of 188. Given the teacher shortage crisis facing Canberra’s schools, how much of this reduction is in frontline teachers?
MS BERRY: I will have to take that question on notice.
MR HANSON: Why is there a decrease of over a hundred Education Directorate staff in this budget at the same time as the AEU say there is a chronic shortage of teachers?
MS BERRY: The whole point of the work of the taskforce is to investigate why there is a teacher shortage in the ACT and what we can do in the ACT to address that. As we have said, it is a national issue, but of course the ACT is not immune to that.
MR PARTON: Minister, given the shortage of teachers, why would you not retain the temporary staff on a permanent basis to address the crisis?
MS BERRY: The taskforce has been set up to address exactly these types of questions about what we can do as far as making sure that we have the appropriate teaching workforce in the ACT.
DR PATERSON: My question is to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs. Minister, how is the 2021-22 ACT budget supporting student welfare and enhancing equity outcomes in our schools.
MS BERRY: I thank Dr Paterson for that question. The education budget this year is all about equity. We believe that every child, regardless of their background, should have the same opportunities to thrive and succeed in ACT public schools. This budget is delivering on the government’s Future of Education strategy, which is all about improving access, equity and inclusion for all students. A new $11.5 million Future of Education Equity Fund will replace the Secondary School Bursary Scheme, and it will reach five times as many students. An additional 25 youth and social workers will be employed at a cost of $7.4 million over the next four years, providing early intervention and support for students and their families.
We are also investing $1.5 million for a two-year trial to provide 1,500 students with access to free breakfast and lunch for three days a week. These are progressive Labor values. These were all ACT Labor’s commitments, and now this government has committed to them through its budget announcements today. We know that children cannot learn without a full stomach, and this is about making sure that every child has the same equal chance to succeed.
DR PATERSON: Minister, what investments is the ACT government making to support and enhance early childhood education in the ACT?
MS BERRY: This budget also sees the government invest $12.5 million over four years to continue the ACT’s nation-leading 10-year plan for early childhood