Page 1901 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 5 May 2009

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MS HUNTER: My supplementary question is about the consequences that there may be for 16 and 17-year-olds who do not attend school or training and who are not employed. That is my understanding of the mandatory nature of staying at school till 17.

MR BARR: I think the question in there was: what are the consequences? I would draw the member’s attention to chapter 2 of the Education Act that talks about school attendance and enrolment. There are a series of penalty provision that do apply in those instances; so there are consequences. There are penalty units that are attached to different levels of offence. I happen to have that in front of me. I am happy to table that if that would be useful for the member. I table the following paper:

Extract from Education Act 2004—extract—chapter 2, pages 7 and 8.

The matter in relation to the withholding of commonwealth government payments, of course, rests with the commonwealth. The Prime Minister has made a series of commitments and announcements at the COAG meeting last week in relation to changes that the commonwealth government intends to make. The ACT will, of course, through the proposals that I intend to bring to the Assembly, seek to increase that youth participation age. It will be a matter, of course, for the Assembly to debate. I do note that every other Australian jurisdiction has made or is in the process of making this change, the Northern Territory being the last, following the ACT’s announcement of its intention last month.

We have a national agreement, it would seem, in relation to these reforms. The penalty provisions are in the Education Act. In terms of monetary penalties in relation to allowances, that relates to the commonwealth government and it will be a matter for them to determine.

Distinguished visitor

MR SPEAKER: Members, I draw your attention to the presence of the ACT senator, Ms Kate Lundy, in the gallery today. I welcome Ms Lundy to the ACT Assembly.

Questions without notice

Health—breast screening

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, the December quarterly performance report shows that waiting times for breast screening services are above the national average. Further, the percentage of patients treated on time declined from 78 per cent to 73 per cent. Minister, why is this so?

MS GALLAGHER: As I understand it, this result is down to workforce pressures—that is, radiographers have not been able to do the amount of assessment that they were doing—and an increase in the number of women seeking to be screened. I can say that we are certainly working on improving our processes in BreastScreen to make sure that we improve the time between asking for an appointment and getting one and focusing on getting as many women assessed as we can and then responding to those who need further treatment.

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