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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1339 ..

Mr Wood: I got you into politics too, didn't I?

MS DUNDAS: I wouldn't say that.

Teachers are a core part of the education system, but teachers here and interstate are increasingly becoming overstretched in their daily work environment. They are now expected to fill a large number of additional roles, including coaching sporting teams, fundraising, maintenance, playground duty and assisting in after-school care. Often they become de facto social workers and, as we have seen in some New South Wales schools recently, they are playing the role of security guards and police.

Teachers also require additional resources for early intervention for children with learning difficulties to ensure better long-term outcomes. Teachers are now educating a broader range of students, especially in the public school system-students with learning disabilities and students with physical and mental disabilities-often without the infrastructure and support they need. This is a matter I have brought to the attention of the Assembly a number of times.

Whilst I have, as Mr Pratt's motion indicates, confidence in the education system of the ACT being strong, I still believe that a lot of work needs to be done. Our focus should be on finding out where the gaps are and where the problems are and, as has been mentioned by a number of speakers in this chamber, working on them. We cannot rest on our laurels, and we should not be applauding ourselves when so much still needs to be done.

In conclusion, I add that those who believe education to be expensive should consider the cost of ignorance.

MR STEFANIAK (4.47): I agree with Ms Dundas on one point: there is always more to be done and always more you can do. We should never lose sight of that fact. There is nothing wrong, though, with congratulating, and expressing confidence in, a system that leads the nation and has done so for many years. Mr Pratt's motion is very good in that regard.

The motion highlight that one year the retention rate was down and that more recent figures indicate a very high retention rate of seven times the national average. When there was a glitch and the figures were down, we still were very much in front of every other state and territory.

Mr Corbell keeps referring to figures "last year", as if last year was 2001, and saying that this year the retention rate is so much higher. Ms Tucker mentioned that the report was in 1999 and that the "next year" when the figures were well and truly up again was 2000. I could be corrected on that. It might have been 2000, in which case the most recent figures are for 2001. Certainly, it was when the opposition were in government and I was minister for education. I was very pleased to see the increased retention figures in the latest ABS survey, whether they were for 2000 or 2001. It will be interesting to see what

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