Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 7 April 2011) . . Page.. 1539 ..
It should be recalled that, in one fell swoop, the accountability elements in the government’s strategic plan, like “providing opportunities for consultation between stakeholders”, in essence became nothing more than nice-sounding motherhood statements.
What more is there on issues of fairness, as with the government’s commitment to support diversity by developing whole school learning environments that promote recognition of the right to education on the same basis as for students without a disability; ensuring fair access to quality education; and supporting staff to implement reasonable adjustments to meet the learning needs of all students?
This is the same government that, although preaching fairness, was willing to cut support teachers for visually impaired students and replace them with text-to-speech programs to teach these students literacy. That was one of the many other measures that the government, under Minister Barr’s leadership, or lack thereof, was willing to cut.
We note in today’s response that the government has agreed to key issues facing the school disability community, such as post-school options and pathways, individual learning plans, improved service consistency between public and non-government school sectors, and the like.
This is a step in the right direction, but, as has been the government’s track record thus far, it needs to be seen whether they will deliver on these responses. In Mr Barr’s case, we have to be mindful of the constant spin he creates and the reality of his lack of ability to deliver on his promises. Just ask the teachers of the ACT how much he has delivered for them.
The Canberra Liberals will continue to keep the government accountable on such matters and continue to push for fiscally prudent and sustainable options for improving outcomes for all students—and in this context for students with disabilities.
MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.32): I also would be interested in, and hope we will get, an update from the minister this morning on where he and his department are up to in progressing some of the recommendations from the report that were agreed to.
One of the overall things I would say is that we have a number of students in our education system who have disabilities and who need support in order to pursue their education. It is incredibly important that we do provide that support. Although Mr Doszpot talked about being fiscally prudent, I think we need to go a little bit beyond that to see that, in fact, this is an issue of fairness. It is an issue of social justice. It is an issue of ensuring that those children with disabilities have the same opportunities as students who do not have disabilities in being able to pursue an education. I do think it is important to put that in this debate.
It is also incredibly important that this report from the standing committee, and also the Shaddock review, be addressed—the recommendations; the issues that came up—