Page 3111 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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

There is a range of very important initiatives. I thank members for their comments on the budget this evening, and I commend the appropriation to the Assembly.

Amendment agreed to.

Proposed expenditure, as amended, agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.14—Education and Training Directorate—$525,912,000 (net cost of outputs), $112,152,000 (capital injection) and $211,340,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $849,404,000.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (10.45): Disability education was a clear winner in the ACT budget and has been an area of high need for some time. Disability education has been a priority area of the Greens in this Assembly, and the inquiry into the needs of students with a disability conducted last year was a result of the parliamentary agreement with the government.

The Greens are pleased to see this much needed funding. For too long, disabled students have not had the comprehensive and funded support that all students have needed. This funding announcement will take some steps to address this. The federal government also made a considerable investment in disability education, announcing a $200 million package.

The Greens believe it is now important for new funding to be delivered in an open and transparent manner with continued consultation with all key stakeholders, especially parents and carers. The inquiry into the needs of students with a disability clearly heard that the student centred appraisal of need, the SCAN process, the assessment tool that determines the students’ needs so that resources can be allocated in a transparent and consistent manner, was not happening. Many parents raised the issue with me. They were concerned about the manner in which the appraisal was conducted and felt their children’s needs were being neglected as resources were allocated to schools in a block amount.

I note that the minister is utilising a consultant to look at using the individual learning plans and marrying them with the SCAN process. I acknowledge that it is a complex funding arrangement. What must not be complex, however, is meaningful consultation and engagement with parents and carers. In discussions with parents, I am hearing renewed hope regarding disability education. This is positive and signals that the department is listening and responding to the Shaddock review, and that hopefully parents of children with a disability will begin to see positive advances.

Therapy services and special transport are areas of critical importance when providing disability education. Most parents would love their child to be able to attend their local suburban school. While some can, many cannot, and a trip from Calwell to O’Connor is necessary. Special needs transport is critical to many and is an area marred with problems. I understand that a new tender has been in the negotiation stage for over a year. Some parents report continual problems with these services and it creates considerable pressure in families that may be already experiencing hardship. I urge the minister to investigate this issue to ensure urgent resolution.

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