Page 643 - Week 02 - Thursday, 14 February 2013

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new and returning, the opportunity to prepare for the first semester of university. O week ensures access for new students to social, cultural and academic activities that provide a great basis for the year ahead. Each day’s activities assist students to enrol in courses, join clubs and societies and generally become familiar with their new environment. There are always plenty of opportunities to party and to get to know their fellow students.

Over the past couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to attend both the University of Canberra and the Australian National University orientation week market days. I had the opportunity to meet with many new and returning students at both universities, as well as members of clubs and associations. At the University of Canberra I again had the pleasure of meeting with volunteers promoting the champions ACT campaign, designed to promote strategies to help people aged 18 to 24 years keep safe when out drinking with their friends.

I would also like to put on the record my appreciation to both the ANU Liberal Club and the University of Canberra Liberal Society for inviting me to their market days and I wish them all the best in the coming year.

Education—early childhood

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (4.38): I wanted to talk tonight to the Assembly about an activity that I participated in today in supporting the big steps in early childhood education campaign. Big steps in early childhood education is a campaign that aims to recognise the important work that educators in the early childhood sector do in giving our children the best start in life. Today saw the culmination of the next part of the big steps campaign to call on the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to deliver professional wages to early childhood educators.

As I have said previously in this place, early childhood educators play a vitally important role. They are responsible for helping children to learn and play with others, to interact in new environments and to set them on a path to learn that will last with them for the rest of their lives. I also know that many early childhood educators struggle to make ends meet. In my previous life I met educators who could not afford to stay in the system or who had to forgo decent living conditions in order to do the work that they love.

I know that this government have a deep respect for the work early childhood educators do and that we are trying our best to keep dedicated educators in the sector with initiatives such as the early childhood scholarship program providing more than 80 full-time scholarships for educators and to obtain the certificate III qualification.

In a further sign of our commitment to proper recognition of early childhood educators, today my colleagues and I joined up with United Voice, the union representing early childhood educators, to sign Valentine’s Day cards asking the Prime Minister to include professional wages for early childhood educators in the budget. I had the great opportunity to meet and welcome educator Lauren, mother Angela and her children, daughter Molly and son Toby.

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