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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 450 ..


MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (10.38): Mr Speaker, I present the Board of Senior Secondary Studies (Amendment) Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

The amendments are relatively minor; however, they will enhance the operation of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies. An important change has been to provide for the chief executive of the Department of Education and Community Services to delegate the membership of that position on the board. This change ensures that when the chief executive is unable to attend board meetings a representative can be appointed to attend with full voting rights. Any busy chief executive must be able to delegate, where necessary, important functions such as attendance at a Board of Senior Secondary Studies meeting.

You will recall that, in the Assembly debate on the principal Act late last year, my colleague Mr Moore and others questioned the size of the board. In recognition of those concerns, I propose in the amendment Bill to reduce the board membership by one - that of the executive officer. Upon reflection, Mr Speaker, an executive officer does not need to be a member of the board. The executive officer plays an important role in the day-to-day administration and in providing advice and support to the board. Support for the board is an administrative activity separate from the deliberative responsibilities of the board. This proposal reinforces the independence of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies. It goes without saying, Mr Speaker, that there would be close consultation between the relevant departmental officers and the board chair on matters of board policy and related substantive issues.

Mr Speaker, the nature of senior secondary education is changing. Increasingly, courses have been delivered in collaboration with universities, institutes of technology and vocational education and training providers. Pathways for senior secondary education are becoming more flexible. For example, the Canberra Institute of Technology delivers Years 11 and 12 studies for mature-age students. The proposed amendment will allow the board to accredit or register courses from a broader range of educational institutions. Mr Speaker, I am sure members of the Assembly would agree that we want our young people to have the broadest and best range of options available in the way of courses. I propose, therefore, that the definition of a recognised educational institution should be broadened to cover educational institutions that are established or registered under an Act or a law of the Commonwealth, State or another Territory.

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