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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3041 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

reconciliation support group. The group plans activities and excursions and purchases resources for the school. The principal has commented that this is one of the most active and constructive groups in the school.

The ACT indigenous community today, with significant representation from across Australia, is unique in its diversity and mobility. The Within Reach of Us All, Services to Indigenous People Action Plan 2002-2004 recognises this through its acknowledgment of the strength, spirit, endurance and diversity of Australia's indigenous people. The action plan describes four commitments that articulate our resolve to make a positive difference to the lives of indigenous young people in our community.

There are a number of key elements that I would like to draw to the attention of members. The first is about overcoming racism and valuing diversity. Policy making and the implementation of those policies are an important part of day-to-day lives in schools. Policies on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and combating racism in school and the workplace are both in the review phase to ensure their currency.

Anti-racism contact officers in schools are appointed and trained each year and provided with a range of comprehensive materials to support students. The government takes these responsibilities seriously and is keen for school communities to be fair and just places, with an emphasis on respect for others and valuing the diversity our rich community brings.

The second is about forming genuine and ongoing partnerships with indigenous communities. I am pleased to remind members of the signing of the indigenous education compact last December. This agreement underlies the commitment parties have to working together to ensure continued improvements for indigenous youth. Public acknowledgment of the compact is a way of recognising the commitments contained within it as core business in our preschools, schools and colleges.

Aboriginal and student support and parent awareness committees established within 75 of our government schools are parent based and include staff members. To illustrate the work they are doing, I will briefly describe Melba High School's activities. Their committee organised a whole school program in September. They organised Islander and Aboriginal dances, cooking, art and indigenous games. They also organised a camp for their indigenous students with the Wreck Bay community.

The third key element is about creating safe, supportive, welcoming and culturally inclusive educational and service environments. Cultural awareness training for staff has been well received and has served to highlight the needs of the indigenous community. Participating executive staff and managers recognise the applicability of the training to their business and are finding ways to include this knowledge in decision making. Teachers and school administrative staff have also had the opportunity to take part in a variety of training dedicated to indigenous issues.

Apart from professional development being undertaken, many schools are incorporating indigenous art and culture into the fabric of their schools. Gordon Primary School has organised the painting of a rainbow serpent which snakes its way all round the school. An indigenous artist and the Ngunnawal community worked with the school and every

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