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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1489 ..

Learning for life program

(Question No 143)

Mr Cornwell asked the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, upon notice, on 10 April 2002:

In relation to the recent Government decision to give $414,000 over four years to The Smith Family's Learning for Life program:

(1) What is this money to be used for, given that parental contributions are voluntary at ACT Government schools and thus, parents in financial difficulty are not obliged to contribute.

(2) Do guidelines exist for the use of these government funds by the charity and if so, what are they.

(3) If no guidelines exist, why not.

(4) Can these funds at (1) be used in programs for students at fee paying nongovernment schools.

(5) Are students means tested to be eligible for this program.

(6) At what age is a student eligible for a tertiary scholarship which may include funding provided by the ACT Government and what does this scholarship cover.

Mr Corbell: The answer to Mr Cornwell's question is:

(1) The former ACT Government allocated funding to The Smith Family's Learning for Life Program in the 2001 ACT Budget. The ACT Government's contribution represents a partnership with The Smith Family to expand a successful program that has been operating nationally for over 10 years.

Learning for Life provides scholarships and family support for students in years 1-12, CIT students, and students undertaking tertiary studies. The financial support is between $204 and $504 per year to each student, depending on the level of schooling, or $2,000 per year for tertiary students. The use of the scholarship is at the discretion of individual families, but must be spent on school related expenses. School related expenses may include a range of items such as sporting clothing and equipment, excursions, uniforms, and a school bag. The expenditure of the scholarship is monitored by The Smith Family, and is provided in conjunction with family support services.

(2) Yes, The Smith Family has clear guidelines on how they assess families' eligibility, using a range of factors including income level and family size. The program is designed to support low-income families. The family must also demonstrate a commitment to their child's education. The Smith Family requires proof of income documentation annually to ensure eligibility is maintained. The family support element of the program monitors the child or young person's attendance at school.

(3) This is covered in point (2) above.

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