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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 398 ..

... ACT special schools had been given one-off grants of $2,000 each, and mainstream schools had received an amount per special-needs student, to ease the transition to the user-pays service.

Can the Minister confirm that every mainstream school did receive an amount per special needs student; and, if so, does that include transport for students in catholic and private schools?

MR STEFANIAK: My understanding, Mr Rugendyke, is that certainly the government sector has received extra money to include kids who were in mainstream schools as well. If by chance there is anything wrong with that information, I will get back to you. But that is certainly my understanding on that.

In the non-government sector, we are, in fact, the only government which has actually included any money in any budget for assistance to kids with disabilities. Primarily, our responsibility is to the government sector. In the non-government sector, you will be aware that we have given an amount of money each year from before 1997. We are up to about $600,000 a year, I think, for disabled students in that non-government sector. That is the result, I think, of a four-year promise; that is the tail end of the four-year promise. This is the fourth year. I understand that we have increased it from an initial $200,000, which I provided some four years ago, by $100,000 a year. In this final budget, you will see it is $600,000.

We do not put any strings on how that money is actually used by the non-government sector. Quite obviously, it is of assistance to them. It is certainly something no other government has done. The non-government sector can use that money as they wish. If they wish to use that on transport for disabled students, they are at liberty to do so.

MR RUGENDYKE: I think the minister has answered my supplementary, which would have been along the lines: why doesn't such dedicated money appear in a particular school in Florey? It doesn't show up in their books. From the answer, it sounds like they have a bucket out of which they can prioritise their spending.

MR STEFANIAK: Certainly they have money to prioritise. Might I just say on this question that this was a clear case of people going off half cocked. Initially the matter was raised because ACTION buses changed their arrangements. I think the school in question-

Mr Rugendyke: It is actually a different school.

MR STEFANIAK: I see. I thought it was Cranleigh. They had made arrangements to have another bus company take the kids to the show. That came out about a day or so into the media reporting of it.

I think people do need to check their facts. If you are asking about a different school, I am glad I have answered your question.

Mr Humphries: I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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