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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2089 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

the 1970s in response to conditions and needs at the time. At the time we had just become the ACT education system. I am certainly well aware of there being students at SWOW in 1974, because I actually gave a lift to one. I picked up a student who was hitchhiking and who, I might add, has done very well in later life. In 1974, if Ms McRae can remember that far back, we did not have secondary colleges. It was a very different educational system then. We had Years 7 to 12 at the high school level.

There are changes in the composition of the student body which require increased accountability from schools dealing with younger students. Let us just have a look at the way it has changed. In the old days, when it started, SWOW was for those kids in Year 11 and Year 12 especially who did not fit into the more conventional style of schooling. There was a real need for that. The total number of students in July last year was 56. In May this year the number was 46. The number of students in compulsory schooling years last year was 20. In May this year it was 32. Mr Speaker, that is a significant increase in students in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10, and that, I believe, is important.

I think it is very important that the ACT retain options for students to have access to alternative educational structures and processes. That is what SWOW is all about, Ms McRae. The issue is whether the need is greater at high school age or college age and how best to meet this need. There is also a question - and this is hardly about closing the place - about providing perhaps a similar opportunity on the south side of Canberra as well. That has been talked about for a while. Relocation of SWOW from where it is at present to Dickson College is an option that will be looked at as part of this review. Students in the compulsory years of schooling will have the opportunity to access genuine alternative education. That is very important. An alternative learning environment for students will be maintained. Mr Speaker, the precise form will depend on the outcomes of the review and report.

MS McRAE: I ask a supplementary question. First of all, I would like the Minister to tell me when it will be closed, but if the ministerial advisory committee on education is looking at the future of colleges why is SWOW not one of the issues being talked about there rather than being the subject of a special review? Is it not the fact that you want to close the school?

MR STEFANIAK: It is painfully obvious. Whilst one of the issues being looked at is a relocation, I do not think that equates to a closing. There is obviously a need for this type of educational facility being provided. If Ms McRae had listened to my earlier answer, she would know that I said that part of what will be looked at is whether the program can perhaps be expanded in another part of Canberra as well.

Health Centres

MS TUCKER: My question is for Mrs Carnell as Minister for Health. Mrs Carnell, 10 months ago the salaried GPs were removed from health centres. Can you inform members how many doctors are now employed in health centres? How many, if any, are 100 per cent bulk-billing and how many, if there are any employed, are bulk-billing only health care card holders?

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