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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2426 ..

Education, Community Services and Recreation-

Standing Committee

Report No 9

MS TUCKER (10.34): I present the following report:

Education, Community Services and Recreation-Standing Committee-Report No 9-Adolescents and young adults at risk of not achieving satisfactory education and training outcomes, dated 17 July 2001, together with a copy of the extracts of the minutes of proceedings.

This report was authorised for publication by the Speaker on 26 July 2001. I move:

That the report be noted.

This inquiry has taken quite a lot of time of the Standing Committee on Education, Community Services and Recreation. It was a very important inquiry. It followed an inquiry of the previous Assembly by the Social Policy Committee which I chaired which looked at general services for children at risk in the community.

In that inquiry it became clear that education and schools were very critical in terms of there being an opportunity to identify children who are at risk and to put into place support services of various kinds. Once a child has dropped out of the school system it is much more difficult for them to be picked up until the situation has become very serious. In fact, it may be the case that it is only when they come into contact with juvenile justice or perhaps with serious substance abuse issues that they will then become noticed again. For that reason school and educational programs are obviously very important opportunities to identify these children and try in some way to support them so that they can become constructive participating citizens of our community.

I will briefly summarise the recommendations which the committee put into the report. The first recommendation relates to curriculum development and we ask that curriculum development be reviewed and evaluated in terms of its flexibility and appropriateness for the varying needs of students. That is because we can see clearly that for the school experience to be positive for a child or a student or a young person they have to feel that the curriculum is relevant for them and that it has meaning. For that reason it is critically important that we ensure that the curriculum addresses that aspect of relevance.

We have made recommendations regarding the need to acknowledge that high schools are particularly problematic. Young people are going through adolescence, puberty and hormonal changes, which can be issues in themselves, without being multiplied by other issues if the child is feeling they have low self-esteem because of the fact that the school environment is not safe or not respectful or supportive or the curriculum is not relevant.

We also acknowledge the fact that because of the federal government's approach to government benefits and the common youth allowance, the nature of students in colleges now has changed to some degree, because basically they are there and they

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