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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3484 ..

specific issue across the course of a teacher’s life. I commend the minister for doing that.

As a fellow member of the Standing Committee on Education and Community Inclusion, Mr Assistant Speaker, you will no doubt be having conversations in the new year regarding the Auditor-General’s report which has been referred to by Mr Hanson in his presentation. That directly goes to teacher quality. These are some of the specific investments that we are happy to see.

It speaks to the dirt path of Australian politics that my three crossbenchers and I walk on. It is important that we be honest with the electorate and speak about things that we are concerned about and things that are not quite going well, while also commending the government for great new investments and initiatives that we are proud to see there and that we have lobbied hard for. It would be much easier to be an opposition MLA and just say that everything is completely cooked, and the only way we could possibly fix anything would be by electing the other mob. Instead, I am going to be more nuanced in my contribution and my comments.

One thing I would really like to commend the government for is responding to the long-term concerns of parents, exacerbated through the COVID pandemic, about the number of social and youth workers throughout our schools. One of the specific pressure points, I understand, from my deep consultative conversations with teachers and the union—not arbitrary quotes thrown about in this place to make a political point, but deep consultation with the sector—is that in the ACT, and in schools across the country, there are far too many teachers who are taken out of the classroom to provide pastoral care, and psychological and social worker support, for individual students who risk slipping through the cracks.

The world is getting tougher. That was the case even before the pandemic. The government has acknowledged that and has funded 25 new positions across our schools for social workers and youth workers. That is a fantastic thing. I would have hoped to have seen more positive affirmations of that funding in the presentation that we have seen so far; I am disappointed that I did not. It sends a clear message to parents, teachers and students across the ACT about what kinds of political interventions we can continue to expect to see from the Canberra Liberals on the question of public education.

I am particularly proud of the teacher task force, but in the few moments I have left I would like to speak on the importance of investing further in civics and democracy education in ACT schools. I am pleased to see that we have additional funding throughout the budget for that. I would like to think that it was a response to a number of motions and speeches I have made in this place over the course of the last year, speaking to the value of young people engaging in political processes and civic and democratic processes, engaging in peaceful protest, and being provided with the awesome opportunity that gives young people the opportunity to live out the curriculum they are learning in schools and that teachers are aptly teaching them.

Should those observing get nothing else out of this debate, as a passionate advocate for the ACT’s public school system, as a long-term campaigner for better pay and

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