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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 559 ..



I think there is a lot to be gained by our participation - our participation, of course, according to our means - in however that international forum does develop. I commend the report to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


Report on Work for the Dole Project in Primary Schools

MS TUCKER (11.06): I present report No. 2 of the Standing Committee on Education, entitled "The Work for the Dole Project in Primary Schools", which includes a dissenting report, together with a copy of extracts of the minutes of proceedings. I move:

That the report be noted.

Mr Speaker, it is with pleasure that I table the report of the Education Committee on the work for the dole project in primary schools. This inquiry came about because the department put this proposal to the Federal Government without consulting first with major stakeholders in the ACT. The committee process allowed these stakeholders an opportunity to express their views on the proposal. The lack of consultation is the subject of the first two recommendations of this report.

It is alarming to see how the department disregarded the Government's own consultation protocol. It is doubly offensive because in this situation it is actually a requirement of the Federal work for the dole scheme that projects must enjoy full community support. There is no way that the department could have known that support was there when they put in this proposal, and it is clear from our inquiry that in fact it is not there. In a bizarre process the Government sought a letter of approval from the Chamber of Commerce only, not from the key community groups whose core business is education. The department wrote the draft letter of support for the chamber because, after all, education is not their core business and so they needed a little help. The first two recommendations require that the department comply with the Government's own consultation protocol and that, in future, compliance with this protocol be included as a performance measure in contracts of all senior executives.

Selection of participants was also obviously an important aspect of the discussion. The community wants to know processes are rigorous to ensure that only very suitable people work with our children in our primary schools. The committee was concerned to see that the Department of Education did not understand Centrelink's role in the selection process. The ACT department told the committee that they would negotiate with Centrelink to identify suitable young, long-term unemployed people to participate in the work experience activities identified by schools. However, Centrelink said their only responsibility was to ensure that participants meet the legislative requirements, such as age and length of time unemployed. The committee has recommended that the department develop detailed selection processes. This should have been a priority in their processes if the community were to have confidence in the proposal.

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