Page 2623 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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those students in non-government schools than there is in relation to those in government schools.

The overall funding mix for non-government schools versus government schools I think has stayed about the same, which is around the 17 per cent mark. I am not referring to disability funding here. We are on record as saying that we think that is too low; that that is the wrong mix; and that some non-government schools are suffering as a result. I am thinking in particular of a lot of the systemic Catholic schools, which struggle. They are certainly not the preserve of the wealthy; they do not have lavish facilities; and they struggle at times for funding. I think it is legitimate that they continue to seek additional funding in coming budgets.

We saw that section 76 of the Education Act requires the minister to consult with non-government schools and with the education council, I guess partly for that reason; so that the overall mix of funding for different schools is right. We saw that that was not done ahead of this budget and that that section of the Education Act was breached. That was disappointing for a number of reasons. I have gone into the legal issues but this one is really about getting that funding mix right.

Of course the minister could have disregarded whatever the council said but it would be good if, hopefully, for next year’s budget they were listened to. Hopefully what they say will be taken into account in determining the funding mix for both government and non-government schools. That is a bit of a summary for the opposition. No doubt Mrs Dunne will talk more as the relevant shadow, but the failure to comply with section 76 and the lack of much additional funding for disabled students in non-government schools continues to be of concern to me.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (9.54): Mr Speaker, there are many issues in such a large portfolio that one could touch on when commenting on the budget. Last night I spent some time at a P&C meeting at one of our local high schools. No matter where you go, the list of requirements and the list of things that people would like to see in their schools is almost the same. They want more male teachers, they want better counselling services, they are concerned about the maintenance and the look of the school, and they are really concerned about the continuity of teachers and getting the right teachers for the right classes. Parents and teachers come together in organisations like the P&Cs to work hard for their schools.

The big message that has come to me since the budget is the complete abandonment, it would seem, of ACT government high schools by this government. There is a very large level of discontent in the community because the high schools are seen as the poor cousins in everything. Over successive governments lots of money quite rightly has gone into the early childhood years, the early years of primary school. We have cut down class sizes there. There is always lots of money for the jewel in the crown, which is the ACT college system. In the middle there are the high schools that, for the most part, feel that they have missed out.

The big message that I receive when I visit high schools and talk to the P&Cs is that they feel their schools are missing out. Most importantly, the big message that I am getting is that there are not enough resources for pastoral care and for counselling. I was at Melrose high school recently and they have a counsellor for three days a week. That

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