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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3080 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

They need to be able to access programs to assist them break the habit. A number of students in our schools need such assistance. More work needs to be done and will probably need to be done for a number of years yet.

Ms Tucker mentioned youth justice, which is now back in the department of education. I recall reading in Hansard in 1999 when it went off to corrections that Mr Hargreaves was keen to see it return to the department of education. Whatever the pros and cons, it is there now.

Now that department has responsibility again for Quamby, it is important to ensure that the place is secure and that necessary improvements are made. As minister, I inherited a place which, because of the appalling fence, was like a revolving door. I managed to fix that to a large extent. There were also huge systematic problems there. Sadly, it took the death of a young man and a coronial inquest to enable the department to get rid of staff who probably never should have been there in the first place. That does not say much for some of the industrial laws and expectations in our country. Nevertheless, at least a lot of improvements were made. Inappropriate staff were given their marching orders and additional programs were put in place.

I was pleased to start putting greater emphasis on proper educational programs there. I am delighted to see recent reports of detainees graduating with year 10 certificates and attaining TAFE qualifications. It is essential that we continue and enhance the education programs in Quamby and any other youth justice facility we may end up with, to ensure that the kids go out a lot better and better trained than when they came in. That seems to be tracking quite well. I am pleased to see that occur. It is something this government and the responsible minister need to keep tabs on because it is so important. Commonsense would tell you that if a young person can be stopped from going too far down the path of a life of crime and get a decent qualifications behind them they will have a chance, when they come out, of doing something positive. That is beneficial not only for the young person but for society generally. I urge the government to continue to ensure that those programs are available at Quamby.

When I became minister, I was very concerned that some government primary schools were down to about 40 minutes of physical education a week. After extensive consultation, we recommended that kindergarten to year 10 have 150 minutes of compulsory physical education. We looked at that several years ago to see how it was going. Most schools were doing fairly well, but some further improvements were made. There is also notice a very good program between the schools and the junior sporting community. I remember attending the launch of a document on that and how further contacts could be made to the benefit of schools.

I am concerned that this government has pulled the tender process for fitness assessments. One group that does fitness assessments here and probably another institution would have tendered. I was quite concerned about the time it was taking for anything to happen. Now I understand that the process has been pulled. That is very sad, especially when we consider recent reports of increasing child obesity and problems of self-image, health and ability to operate well in a school environment and to study. The number of kids with obesity in Canberra and throughout Australia is dramatically increasing.

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