Page 2718 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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is Holt and Higgins preschools and primary schools that will be impacted upon and, of course, the current Ginninderra district high school.

Schools—West Belconnen

MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. As was mentioned, on 20 July she announced the government’s proposal to build a state-of-the-art, $43 million P-3 school in West Belconnen, subject to a six-month consultation period. Will she give some details of what forms of consultation are under way?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for her question. It is very important that we have an accurate record on the consultation processes already under way and those available to people should they choose to get involved. An extensive community consultation process is currently being conducted on the proposed new school. Already we kicked that off with a community forum at Ginninderra District High School in July. That was attended by several hundred members of the local community, who took the opportunity to come and raise their views directly with the government.

The further opportunities from that meeting are many and varied. We have implemented as many different channels as possible for people to provide their feedback on the proposal. Electronic feedback methods have been set up, with members of the public able to provide feedback at the Department of Education and Training web site and via email. The web site has received a lot of interest, ranging from individual questions from students and families seeking very specific information on subject selection to people wanting to ensure their children can be enrolled in the new school. We also have available officers at Canberra Connect to answer questions around the proposal when the community chooses to contact them over the telephone or on their web site.

Specific community forums are also being organised to ensure that no personal group is not able to offer their views. Today the minister’s youth council and the youth policy group will meet to discuss the proposal from the view of the wider community of young people in the territory. Tomorrow ACT community councils will meet to discuss the idea. In coming weeks the Belconnen Community Council will be hosting a special meeting for residents and the Belconnen Community Service and Unitingcare Kippax are also arranging a forum.

Last week, invitations went out to over 90 businesses in the area inviting them to a breakfast meeting on 22 August and another whole-of-community forum—which I instigated at the end of the public meeting in July—will be held on 14 September to provide feedback to the issues raised and questions asked of me at that meeting. We took away many suggestions from people, certainly people who stayed behind after the meeting to ask me specific questions. All of those issues have been taken on board and fed through the department, and we will be responding to every one of those issues that have been raised with us.

So this is a genuine consultation period. The government has put out a proposal. It has put to the community the difficult issues surrounding Ginninderra District High School and the wider West Belconnen community. We put to the community our solution that we think will deliver the results we want to see educationally in that area. Of course, that is the proposal to re-invest $43 million into the community by way of a fantastic new

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