Page 1739 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

children to them. Parents make a conscious choice based on a range of values and aspirations for their children and often suffer financial hardship as a consequence to ensure education of choice. It is important that we as legislators allow and encourage that freedom.

Given the vital and valuable contribution Catholic schools make to the education of students in this territory, it remains an indictment of the misguided thinking of this government that while per student recurrent expenditure in government schools is 27 per cent above the national average, territory financial support per student for Catholic schools is 18 per cent below the national average and remains one of the lowest levels of state and territory support in the country.

The Catholic Education Commission highlighted this fact in their submission to the government’s 2011-12 budget consultation process. The same submission stressed that the average financial resources available to an ACT Catholic school student are only 66 per cent of that of an ACT government school student.

It suggested that per student income from private sources in ACT schools is more than double the level of support provided by the ACT government. Parents in the ACT wishing to exercise choice in the selection of schooling for their children indeed pay a high price. I guess, though, that that is not surprising given that this is the government that has chosen to close schools and open prisons.

While Catholic schools operate on fewer resources than government schools, they do it well. In the latest NAPLAN results for ACT schools, a number of Catholic primary schools are ranked in the top 10 for reading, writing, spelling, grammar and numeracy. I refer to schools like St Joseph’s primary school in O’Connor, St Clare of Assisi in Condor, St John the Apostle in Florey and St Jude’s primary in Holder. At the secondary level, Merici girls college at Braddon, St Mary MacKillop school at Isabella and Daramalan College are all in the top 10 in various tables. I reiterate that they achieve this in the ACT with only two-thirds the resources available to government school students.

Over the years there have been some other outstanding achievements in the ACT Catholic school system, whether it be vocational, sporting, community service or the arts. In the sports arena, Canberra Catholic schools have a proud and enviable record. No school in Canberra can quite match the long and proud record of St Edmund’s in rugby.

Former Australian Wallaby captain George Gregan was a student at St Edmund’s, as was current Wallaby Saia Faingaa. St Edmund’s have four former students in the current Brumbies team—people like Matt Giteau, who even the least-interested sports follower would know. League players such as Ricky Stuart started their football career in rugby at St Eddie’s. Current year 12 Marist student Tim Cusack is in rugby’s national talent program, while Daramalan currently boasts a member of the junior Davis Cup tennis team.

But it is not just on the sports field that Catholic schools have made a contribution. Marist College at Phillip has been selected as one of the 18 schools across Australia to

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video