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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3485 ..

better working conditions for public school teachers, and as a proud public school graduate myself, whose activism led me to this place, let me make it clear that things are not perfect. But also let me make it clear that, as a result of direct investments in this budget and decisions that this Labor-Greens government has taken over the past six months in particular, things are about to get substantially better—better with 25 new social and youth workers spread across our system; better with a purposeful and strategic teacher shortage task force to identify and strategise how to recruit and retain a quality teaching task force into our sector; better with an increased acknowledgement of the value of civics and democracy education in our public schools and the flow-on effects of that education throughout our broader curriculum; and better because both parties of government have collaborated, in good faith, to find new and innovative funding models for specific challenges in the Education Directorate, many of which I have been pleased to campaign for over the last 12 months.

That is the way the ACT Greens will continue to engage in the debate on public education. That is the work that I will continue to do as the ACT Greens spokesperson for education. Because it is my nature, I will always have a bit of fun coming in here and having conversations with the room, but once this budget appropriation is back, I will go back to doing the substantive work with Minister Berry and her office to get a better outcome for public school teachers, parents and students. I look forward to that work in the coming year.

MS ORR (Yerrabi) (11.44): I rise to present the speech prepared by Ms Berry, Minister for Education, as she is not able to be here due to illness.

As we come to the close of this extraordinary and challenging year, I draw the Assembly’s attention to the ACT government’s significant financial commitment to the education of Canberra’s children and young people. I want to highlight to this Assembly, and to the people of Canberra, the great importance of education as perhaps the primary tool to achieve equity and social justice in our community.

Education is not only about building a student’s ability to land a great job, nurturing individual achievement and success. A good education is critical to ensuring that the next generation are fully functioning members of their society—active citizens, participating in democracy, engaging with each other, being able to effect social change and understanding the importance of public health measures for all, even when they come at some personal cost.

A strong education system is for all of us, not just the individual. All students therefore need to be supported to achieve an education that not only nurtures them but builds our whole community and civil society.

When we delivered our education budget last month, we focused on measures that make sure that students experiencing vulnerabilities are supported to engage in everything a public education has to offer. The measures are a core part of our 10-year Future of Education Strategy. The strategy acknowledges the great diversity of our students and recognises that access to educational opportunity and responding to the needs of each student are at the heart of a successful society.

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