Page 853 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 24 February 2009

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The issue is around the capacity to service a mortgage of up to $300,000 to purchase the land and provide a house. Those families with incomes of less than $75,000 will simply not receive that sort of support from any lending or financial institution. We continue to negotiate, and we will not give up. (Time expired.)


MS HUNTER: My question is to the minister for education regarding sustainability education in ACT schools. What are the department and the minister doing to lead the promotion and pursuit of sustainability education in ACT schools?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Hunter for the question. This is an area where there is broad agreement, both within the education community and within the government—and clearly in the Greens party. I might even extend it to those opposite—

Mr Hargreaves: I wouldn’t.

MR BARR: It is generous: there are perhaps mixed views in those opposite in relation to the importance of sustainability education within the context of both the territory’s education system and our role within the context of the Australian education system.

There are a number of programs that are in place within ACT schools and a number of national programs where the ACT is the leading jurisdiction in terms of school participation. The Australian sustainable schools initiative, for example, is one of those national programs where the ACT has the highest percentage, the highest proportion, of schools participating.

In terms of our new curriculum framework that came into operation from 2008 after a number of years of trial across all ACT government, Catholic and independent schools, there is a strong focus on sustainability, in terms of both the broader environment and also the role that schools can play at a local and grassroots level, both within their local communities and also in the schools themselves.

The ACT government has sought to partner with school communities around a number of specific initiatives, particularly working with our biggest energy using schools to ensure that they are more sustainable. Those schools tend to be high schools and colleges, but we also recognise the importance of early intervention. Through our new curriculum framework and our focus on early childhood education in those early years, preschool to year 2, there is work that begins with students at that age and continues through primary school, high school and college education.

And our higher education providers—both the CIT and the University of Canberra, under the auspices of this Assembly, and then the Australian National University and other universities in the territory—also take their sustainability obligations seriously. I would go so far as to say that I believe the education sector in the ACT is a leading sector in terms of promoting sustainability not only in its own infrastructure but in its own education programs.

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