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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2825 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

We need to pursue down this path of harm minimisation. We need to do it actively because so many of our young people are vulnerable and are at risk. I am very pleased to be able to work with other members in the Assembly. I will continue to work with other members in the Assembly, even when I understand they have a different view from me on this issue, so that we can, as far as possible, take any of the politicking out of it and so that we can get the best possible outcome for the children and young people of this Territory and for the adults who unfortunately are involved.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Ministerial Statement and Papers

Debate resumed from 26 May 1998, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That the Assembly takes note of the papers.

MR BERRY (5.03): I rise to respond briefly to this ministerial statement on literacy. Literacy is a popular cause in the community and one that governments have to take note of. Indeed, the Opposition takes note of it as well. There is nothing more important than producing students well versed in the skills of literacy and numeracy. I do recall with some concern the old three Rs rhetoric that we heard from conservative sources. I trust that we have gone a little bit further than that in dealing with the issue. From the words in the paper, it is clear that people within the education system at least are keen, as you would expect them to be, to improve literacy and numeracy amongst our young students.

There are areas where problems of literacy development are occurring. I do not need to focus on any of them in particular, but there are areas that need a particular and specialist focus to make sure that young people are not left behind. It is very easy to assist the talented, but it is more difficult to deal with those who are having difficulty with their education. I know that teachers are aware of that and are very careful about it, but at the same time there is always a possibility that people will fall through the cracks, as they say. The job of a good education system is to deal with them.

I am surprised that the Minister would mention Charnwood High School. That was a sorry saga for the Government. The Minister said that a literacy and numeracy fund was established following the sale of Charnwood High School. I am not sure that the people of Charnwood would be very happy about that or would see that as a proper trade-off for the closure of their school, but at the same time nobody would oppose the establishment of a literacy and numeracy fund, provided it produced results. The closure of Charnwood High School, in itself, would probably cause difficulties for some students in that area. There may be issues that the education system has to deal with as a result of the dislocation caused by that unfortunate closure in unfortunate circumstances. Again I say that I am surprised to find Charnwood High School mentioned in the Government's vocabulary, given the circumstances. It is unfortunate that this attempt at trade-off has been tried on. People expect education budgets to contain reasonable funding for these sorts of programs where they are found to be necessary.

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