Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1707 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
I do not agree with that. If we did that and just relied on what happened in the home, we would not teach children anything. I think the opposite should apply. If children are unfortunate enough to have a home where they are not encouraged to engage in physical activity, all the more reason to ensure that those kids are at least able to engage in decent physical activity programs in schools. It may well be their only chance to do so.
Ms Tucker: What page are you looking at?
MR STEFANIAK: Pages 14 and 15. So I have a problem there. I do have some significant concerns in relation to this section, which seems to be slanted. It says, "Let's get rid of the mandatory time for physical activity."If you do that, you will go back to the bad old days of the early 90s and the late 80s-not only in Canberra but elsewhere-when some schools did absolutely no physical education of their students and you will be tinkering with a pretty good program, which can be improved.
I would suggest the government look at ways of improving that program rather than dismantling it. Obviously, when we become the government again, if you do dismantle it, we will simply bring it back. That would be a shame because a lot of work has been done and it has a fair amount of support amongst people in the school system, especially parents.
There are a number of other issues in this report I will touch on briefly. I only have time to do the ones I am a bit concerned with. Recommendation 35 reads:
The Committee recommends that all ACT Government schools make greater efforts to reduce homophobia through the use of inclusive language and environment.
I actually thought we were doing that. I would caution about having the opposite effect to the one you want-that you might extenuate it. I thought we had programs there. Along with fellow colleagues, I still have significant problems in relation to recommendations 35 and 33. I am well aware of some government colleges at times having condom machines. I was told by one fellow that the college he was at had a condom vending machine. It broke down a lot, and it was treated as a joke by most of the students. All of his friends went to the chemist anyway.
I have big concerns in relation to a proposal to put them in high schools. For goodness sake! High schools have students who are aged from 12 to 16. Mr Pratt made some very good points in relation to children having their innocence. Those students are very young; they are not in the same category as college students. They are immature, and they are formulating their attitudes to a whole range of things. I think the majority of teachers and parents would be absolutely horrified if condom vending machines were to be put into government high schools.
Parents send their children to school to be educated; parents do not send their children to school to have sex. Mr Pratt made part of that point. It would be totally inappropriate and something I would very much counsel the government against doing. That being said, I will finish on some of the very positive points in this report. I like the idea of