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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 672 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

announced that the Government is about to issue its draft illicit drugs strategy for schools. Can the Minister tell the Assembly who was involved in drafting the strategy, whether international drug education experience was considered in the drafting, what the public consultation process will be, and when will he announce it?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. Wayne, that is almost like a dorothy dixer because, basically, every conceivable person - I will read it out on Thursday when I am making a ministerial statement on it - was involved in that draft education strategy. I thank everyone involved, ranging from parents to students, teachers, principals, the union, members of the broader community, various community organisations and health professionals. They were all involved. In terms of an actual list, I will include one in my statement on Thursday. I had actually taken it out because it was just so lengthy and took up a lot of space, but I think it is important that every relevant sector have a chance to have their say in something as significant as this strategy. It is not something that you can just pooh-pooh. It is a draft strategy. It will go out for consultation. We will be very keen to see what comes back as a result of that consultation because a lot of work has gone into that strategy already.

But it is more than that. I was interested in that article, Mr Berry. I saw it. In fact, I was rung by the secretary of the police association, whom I know very well and whom I deal with, especially through children's matters, on a regular basis, and I think that, generally, they are very happy with the way this Government is going on that and, of course, through the legal and policing fields as a whole. We are a government with a consistently strong approach to law and order issues but a sensible approach and I think that that is something that the community appreciates.

As to the $150,000 for specific drug education programs, you might find, Mr Berry, that it is more than your lot spent when you were there in terms of specific programs, and I say "specific" because it is more than that. We have counsellors in schools. We have teachers qualified in terms of drug education. Health is one of the eight key learning areas. We have mandated - your lot criticised it; I will not say that you were deadset opposed to it - 30 minutes per week for health education from kindergarten to Year 10. A very important component of health education is health education in relation to drugs, both legal and illegal. As part of that process, of course, we mandated 150 minutes of physical activity. I think that the general community was appreciative of both issues, especially the health area. That ensured for the first time that there was a set period of time which schools had to spend on health. All teachers in our system, Mr Berry, actually have an input to drug education for their students, from kindergarten to Year 10.

I am not saying, Mr Berry, that we do it perfectly; we do not. There are still far too many young people in our community taking up both legal and illegal drugs. The take-up of illegal drugs like heroin is of great concern to me and to this Government. That is why we are taking steps to overcome it. That is why we are trying to do better by having this draft education policy. But it is not correct to say that we are not putting emphasis into it. We have put a lot of emphasis into it. In fact, it would be difficult to quantify exactly how much we spend in terms of teacher time on this issue.

Mr Berry: I never asked that question.

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