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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 2031 ..


Report on Work for the Dole Project in Primary Schools - Government Response

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (3.29): Mr Speaker, for the information of members, I present the Government's response to the Standing Committee on Education's Report No. 2, entitled "Work for the Dole Project in Primary Schools", which was presented to the Assembly on 11 March 1999. I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, I am responding today to the majority report of the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Education's inquiry into the work for the dole project for primary schools, and I have tabled the Government's response to the committee's recommendations. A project where work for the dole participants help out in our schools has always been a very worthwhile project to pursue, in the Government's opinion - worth while because it provides valuable experience for the participants and worth while because it provides extra help for schools.

Mr Speaker, let me read from the committee's own report the objectives of the work for the dole program. They are:

. to develop work habits in young people;

. involve the local community in quality projects that provide for young people, and help unemployed young people at the end of the projects; and

. provide communities with quality projects that are of value to that community.

In relation to developing work habits, participation in the project is expected to develop or enhance the ability of participants to work as part of a team, take directions from a supervisor, work independently and improve their communication skills, motivation and dependability.

Mr Speaker, the Government is disappointed that the majority of committee members have attempted to politicise such a worthwhile project. We feel that the scheme is a good thing for the unemployed and for primary schools. Mr Speaker, I appreciate that the opposition voiced by the majority report of the standing committee does make it more difficult for schools to participate in the program. I recognise that the ideological tantrums of some members may dissuade some schools from taking up what the Government sees as a great opportunity.

I turn now to the report. Mr Speaker, if one looks at this rationally, the outcome of the majority report is to block opportunities for some of Canberra's young unemployed. After declaring their impartiality, the majority report members have in fact been extraordinarily selective in the use of material. In the Government's view, the timing of the inquiry and the long time the committee took to report have impeded progress on the project, and this has significantly undermined opportunities for our young unemployed.

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