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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 907 ..

More than just seeking another photo opportunity, I do hope that the minister will take heed of what Catholic schools and independent schools are telling him and observe closely the role they play in the provision of education in the ACT. In the context of equity and choice, I applaud Catholic schools this week and every week for the contribution they make to ACT education and the role they play in strengthening our ACT community. I thank Mr Smyth for bringing us this matter of public importance today.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.29): In relation to this matter of public importance, I would like to talk today about the government support of Catholic education in the ACT, in particular the schools of north Canberra. The ACT government values the role of Catholic schools in providing families with the option of a religious education in accord with the values of the Catholic faith. The ACT government is committed to providing Canberra families with high quality education that meets their needs. Public schools, Catholic schools and those from the independent sector all provide high quality schooling across the ACT. Catholic schools provide an education framed by the values and traditions of the Catholic faith and add to the flavour of our rich and diverse Canberra community.

The minister has already outlined the significant ways the ACT government has supported Catholic schools in the territory, and I would like to focus on some key projects that I know are making a positive impact on the schools in my electorate. In particular, I would like to focus on funding from the commonwealth which has allowed Canberra Catholic schools to make real improvements to their facilities. The funding has been provided to support students with disabilities and school parent councils.

I would also like to highlight a key collaboration between Catholic and public schools. Holy Spirit primary school in Nicholls is part of a unique relationship with Gold Creek primary school. The schools share the library and resource centre, the hall, the canteen and the playing areas. I officiated last year at an arts fiesta at the Gold Creek school, which was a collaboration between the two schools. Here we have a fine example of how schools from different systems can work together for the benefit of the local community.

The Catholic schools in northern Canberra have been recipients of significant levels of funding from the Australian government’s building the education revolution project. This funding has provided for a range of improvements that would not have been possible otherwise. Significant levels of funding have been provided to build learning environments or refurbish school infrastructure to ensure schools meet the needs of the 21st century.

Whenever possible, all new buildings and refurbishments incorporate sustainable building principles. St Thomas More’s school in Campbell has been allocated $200,000 to enable the school to construct a multipurpose hall, and further funding for water tanks and shade structures.

Earlier I mentioned the Holy Spirit primary school. This school has, like so many schools, received funding for the construction of a purpose-built shade structure and

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