Page 2647 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 28 June 2011

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MR BARR: Yes, that is the government’s intention.

MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, what is the government doing to improve specialist worker support for troubled children in our schools?

MR BARR: We are undertaking a significant reform of school-based autonomy functions, as I have just outlined, we are seeking to reform industrial arrangements through an updated enterprise bargaining agreement, and we are providing additional support through a number of system wide initiatives. Two that I have outlined in this place in some detail relate to support around cyber bullying and a particularly tough and significant program combating homophobia in our schools.

Community services—volunteers

MR HARGREAVES: I refer to articles in the Canberra Times in the past two days relating to the accessing of moneys intended for the disadvantaged. Just for the record, Mr Speaker, I volunteered to ask this question. Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Community Services. Can she please explain the content, intent and administrative process for distributing the support for volunteers 2008-09 grants program?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question. The support for volunteers 2008-09 grants program, funded by the ACT government through the Treasurer’s second appropriation bill in December 2008, was tabled in this Assembly at the height of the global financial crisis and at a time when community and welfare organisations were coming to the government with concerns about their ability to cope with an anticipated influx of vulnerable persons and families in need of assistance.

When the Treasurer outlined the intent of the emergency relief fund included in the appropriation bill, she noted, and I quote Hansard of 9 December:

First and foremost, the bill provides urgent assistance to the vulnerable in the community who have been severely affected by the deteriorating national and international economy and who are most in need of our help …

We are providing $2½ million of emergency relief to acknowledge the significant contribution made by the territory’s carers and volunteers. We will ensure that volunteers, carers, foster carers and kinship carers receive assistance in the form of petrol vouchers and bus tickets to alleviate increased transport costs to ensure the continuation of this important community work.

It is worth noting what the opposition leader and the deputy leader said during the debate on that bill that they sought to delay. Mr Smyth’s comment on 11 December was:

Why is the need for scrutiny so important?

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