Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2410 ..
though the department did say in estimates that is something they were looking at for into the future.
The modest allocation of additional funding for preschools has clearly been met with tremendous enthusiasm by parents of preschoolers, and it is good that the government has fixed the strange anomaly that required parents to pay for cleaning and consumables in preschools. It's definitely an issue that has resulted in many pieces of correspondence to my office about how preschools are being maintained in the ACT. I do welcome the funding from the ACT government to this end.
My last concern in terms of this particular line relates to the CIT budget and how it is apparent that the funding for CIT is not keeping pace with inflation. It is difficult to discern from the information presented in the budget whether they will be in fact worse off. There have been questions raised about money that's been appropriated through the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services for vocational education in CIT, but it is not showing up in CIT budget papers.
I have had this discussion with the minister a number of times about how CIT is working at maximum capacity and maximum efficiency for the money that it has, how it is managed and how we do promote vocational education into the future and work to allow our vocational providers to actually meet the demand that is in our community and do something that we'll be looking at into the future.
MR SMYTH(Leader of the Opposition) (12.18 am): Mr Speaker, just a few words on two issues: I think Ms Dundas has it right in terms of where the youth workers in the high schools should be employed. I think potentially what could be a great initiative has the potential to be damaged by the location of the workers. The feedback that I'm getting, certainly from the sector-and indeed from students-is that they do appreciate the independence of youth workers who are not employed by the department.
If we have a situation where kids are in difficulty with what's going on in the school, and the next logical place to seek help is part of what is apparently the system-and indeed the people are employed by the education department-I think that we run the risk of undermining what could otherwise be a very, very useful initiative. I would ask the minister if he'd certainly agree to consider where they should be employed. To see them employed in the youth part of the department rather than the education part of the department, I think, would be a very fruitful exercise.
The other alternative, of course, would be to put it out for the community sector to provide it. That would be useful also, because it then provides some linkages. These kids not only need assistance during school hours but after hours, on the weekends and school holidays and at other times. It's important that they know that somebody's there for them, because the time that may have their dilemmas or their problems or the incident or whatever it is that causes them the grief that they're going through might not necessarily coincide with the time of somebody who's employed by the department of education. So I think the flexibility that might be available and might enhance the project would be better off being provided by the community sector or, if not the community sector, not the department of education in this case.