Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 581 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
I think it could be beneficial to take a closer look at these issues. I think that perhaps a bit more cohesion could come into it and we should be aware of some of the issues. However, I might sound a note or two of caution: do not expect that just talking to children and even introducing programs will necessarily bring about a change in some students. This may well be beneficial for the majority of students but it will not have that impact for some students.
MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (5.57): I move:
Omit "that this Assembly calls on the Government to immediately implement the following:", substitute "that this Assembly calls on the Government to report on the potential to implement the following measures in its consideration of the reports of the Coroner and McLeod inquiries into the January 2003 Bushfires:".
The government supports the general thrust of Mr Pratt's motion. However, I have circulated an amendment which I believe makes the motion a better motion. The amendment supports the sections (1) and (2) of the motion but says, "Let's look at these in terms of what the other inquiries are finding out as well; let us have a more considered approach rather than immediately implementing these."
As far as I can see, the evidence to introduce a curriculum change in respect of bushfires is not necessarily apparent at the moment, other than we have had a bushfire. To immediately implement a change of that nature to the curriculum seems a bit knee jerk when we have not looked through the issues. Certainly, developing appropriate curriculum for our students is a specialised skill. I think the issues Mr Pratt raised are worth considering but we need to do so in terms of our whole response to the inquiries relating to the bushfires in January.
The schools already have a variety of programs in place, and Mr Pratt has alluded to some of them. They are designed to develop students' understanding and values around community issues, including safety. I guess the point I would make, though-and Mr Wood has made it already-is there is not enough time in the day to cover every aspect of young people's lives. We are already teaching children a wide range of health and wellbeing issues, from nutrition to drug education. We are encouraging children to be more active and take part in exercise. We are teaching our students about citizenship, road safety, driver training, sex education, and personal safety issues. All of these are on top of the core business of teaching the eight key learning areas-English, arts, health and PE, languages other than English, mathematics, science, studies of the environment and technology. So, as you can see, our students are already pretty busy with their curricula.
As I have said before, this is also a matter of community education, and not just solely the responsibility of the schools. Policy and information packs on emergency and disaster planning have been distributed to all school principals. A critical incident planning for schools policy is issued by the department. This policy is supported by government-wide policies, such as fire safety and emergency procedure; it is also supported by the Emergency/Disaster Planning for Principals handbook. This handbook, which all schools have a copy of, provides guidance to principals on how to plan and respond to emergencies, analyse hazards and risks, look at evacuation planning, assess