Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 21 October 2010) . . Page.. 4828 ..
The committee received submissions to the inquiry from a number of community and non-government organisations and also from parents. I thank them for taking the time to make submissions and also for giving their time in appearing before the inquiry. It is those personal stories from parents and groups that really have a great impact on what we consider as a committee.
I would also like to acknowledge the futures program at Canberra college, Woden, which the committee visited on 22 July. This is an excellent program, supported by very committed teachers and the principal. I thank them for allowing us to visit the program and have the chance to speak to the students in the program. I wish the students all the best for the future. This program provides future opportunities beyond school for students with a disability. These are the sorts of opportunities which we should be providing to young people with a disability. It is appropriate to give them every chance to live fulfilling lives and make contributions to our community. I commend the report to the Assembly.
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (10.19): I would like to echo the sentiment from Ms Bresnan, the chair of the committee. It certainly was an important inquiry that we conducted. I also found it very interesting, and indeed highly relevant, given the cuts that have been proposed by the minister and the department of education in terms of support to children who suffer from disabilities. Given the fact that the Assembly committee was conducting an inquiry into this very issue—that is, the needs of children with disability in our education system—it is ironic that, concurrently, the department was looking at cutting those very services. Whilst on the one hand the committee was being told by the union, the teachers, the parents and those that support those with disabilities that there is a need for an increased provision of services and support for children with disabilities in our school system, on the other hand the department and the minister were looking at how they could cut those very services. I find that quite ironic.
I echo Ms Bresnan’s comments about those that participated in the inquiry. An inquiry is only as good, essentially, as the submissions that it receives and those who appear before it. I would particularly like to pay note to Professor Shaddock, who has been a leader in this field. Indeed, his review formed a real basis for much of the work that we did in the inquiry. I also thank the minister for appearing and also the various officials from the Department of Education and Training who gave their time.
We had representations from the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations—a number of their members attended—the ACT Disability Advisory Council, the Australian Education Union, National Disability Services ACT and Autism Asperger ACT. I would also like to express my great admiration for the work being done at Canberra college. I thank the principal, John Stenhouse, and Marie Uren for the work that they are doing to help young men and women who are challenged in our education system. They are helping them meet those challenges. It was a very impressive tour. It was a fantastic visit that we had and I thank the minister for allowing the committee to do that.
What is clear is that the number of children with a disability in our education system is increasing. It is not just in the public education system; it is also in independent