Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2959 ..


MS TUCKER (11.49): I move:

That this Assembly calls on the Government to ensure that, in relation to Birrigai Outdoor Education Centre, there be no reduction of:

(a) educational services; and

(b) teaching positions.

The Greens are moving this motion because we are not assured that the education component of Birrigai Outdoor Education Centre will not be changed. I have spoken to the Minister on several occasions and asked him for this assurance and I have always received it. But last week, when we saw the letter that was sent to the Australian Education Union regarding restructuring, we became aware that indeed there are changes threatening against the quality of education programs at Birrigai. It appears that the Government is considering removing one-quarter of the teaching positions at Birrigai. Birrigai at present has one level 2 teacher, two full-time level 1 positions, and two part-time level 1 positions, as well as a teachers assistant. According to this letter to the Australian Education Union, under the restructuring proposal the level 2 position will go. We have also been informed that the assistant position and the administrative position or bursar position will be going too. This is in the name of a review. It seems a very harsh step if one is seeing it just as a preliminary part of a review.

There have obviously been inefficiencies in Birrigai having Sport and Recreation and Education managing the facility. These inefficiencies have been obvious to anyone who has had anything to do with the place for very many years. While we cannot hold the present Liberal Government responsible necessarily for what have been problems in the past, we can see that there have been solutions offered by people presently working at Birrigai which would address these problems. My previous employment as an environmental educationist at the Environment Centre meant that I was brought into contact with Birrigai a lot, and I was well aware of the work that was done there. The struggles with the two departments were all too obvious. However, the high quality and special character of the educational programs being offered were also very apparent. I am aware that there are many people, even from overseas, writing to Birrigai and asking for more information because of the unique quality of the programs they offer.

I think the battles over Birrigai have been misrepresented, and I believe that it is part of an attempt to make the current management at Birrigai look inefficient. In fact, the current management have put together a proposal which could save 30 per cent of the costs of running the centre. Part of this proposal included putting teachers on a seven-day cycle and having one catering organisation. However, the catering, accommodation and community sides of Birrigai's operations have still been put out to tender. The Greens believe that the integrity of the programs will be at risk because of the proposals being bandied around by the Education Department. We cannot afford to mess about with Birrigai. It is the only one we have in the ACT. Even Mr Kennett is not

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .