Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (13 November) . . Page.. 3573 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

around and over the top of the house, but the house survived and the key assets of that property were saved. This video is very effective. It is typical of the type of video that could be used in school education. Indeed, it was used in school education.

Sitting suspended from 6.00 to 7.30 pm

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I will continue from the point at which I was talking about a good video that I would recommend perhaps the education department and the fire services look at with a view to adapting something like it to universal education in schools. I was about to indicate how I had reviewed letters from schoolchildren ranging from seven to 14 years of age who had seen that video and their appreciation of the video and its constructive educative impact was very clear from an examination of those letters.

In order that all children at risk and others more likely to behave recklessly are confronted with this important education, it is essential that the training be conducted as a departmental, universally coordinated program. I cannot emphasis enough that the issues for the territory in terms of what is at stake are so serious that the current approach that schools may undertake whatever they like if they feel like it is simply not acceptable. We will not eradicate the bushfire threat, but we can go a long way towards minimising the threat by having a standard universal approach to training.

Mr Speaker, professionals in any walk of life associated with health, safety, security and emergency management will tell you quietly but firmly that the most important and effective initiative a community can undertake is prevention. In the emergency management field, that means education, training and the regular provision of information to the community. The ACT's emergency services, from top management down to the firemen, continually point out they would much rather put in greater training efforts in order to spend as little time as possible in the field fighting fires. That is eminently sensible and the community should take note of that.

Mr Speaker, I call upon the government to introduce immediately a universal education program in schools, according to the details I have outlined. Even though we are, regrettably, already a few months into the warmer months, it is never too late to start such a formal universal program, but it must start now. I repeat: the bushfire season that is upon us will be severe. I call upon the education minister and the minister for emergency services to work together now to introduce such a program, implemented universally, using expert staff who are well integrated into the schooling system and get it out there as broadly as possible.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (7.33): Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that bushfire awareness education is an important issue and one to which any community has to pay appropriate attention. However, it is not necessarily the solution, as proposed by Mr Pratt, simply to require schools to provide education on this matter. First of all, Mr Pratt's proposals actually ignore what already takes place in our schools, which is quite extensive. Secondly, Mr Pratt's proposition suggests that the responsibility is on schools, whereas fire safety education, including bushfire safety, is a matter for the whole community, not simply schools and teachers.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .