Page 786 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 April 2014

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However, the children at the official opening at Southern Cross Early Childhood School in Scullin were just excited to have a play on the new learn to ride and road safety centre. It consists of a fenced area connected to the school, with bicycle path-width roads, traffic lights, road signs, intersections, pedestrian crossings and even speed bumps.

The grounds are furnished with lush astroturf and storage sheds for the bikes, trikes and scooters. There are also bright murals with fun traffic safety schemes. It is a very creatively designed space that all involved in should be very proud of. It will help to make the very serious business of making our children safe and confident on our roads an enjoyable adventure for those children.

Of course, Southern Cross Early Childhood School in Scullin is fairly central to all schools in Belconnen. All the preschool to year 2 children in the Belconnen network will be encouraged to undergo the appropriate training at the centre. Learning to ride a bike is a great rite of passage in any child’s life. Learning to ride it safely and perhaps being able to ride with friends to school is another step forward in confidence and autonomy. As Ms Lyndall Read, the principal of Southern Cross school, noted at the opening, the importance of the centre and the benefits of being able to ride safely are reflected in the number of organisations and programs that contribute to the establishment of the new learn to ride course and program.

The new centre came about through a partnership between the school, the Education and Training Directorate, Anglicare, the NRMA and Territory and Municipal Services. ACT Health support the healthy lifestyles and physical activities side of the centre and are involved in the walk or ride to school safety program.

ACT Policing, who have an obvious interest in road safety, excited the children at the opening with an officer arriving on his motorcycle and answering the children’s questions as they explored his bike. The CEO of the ACT’s Physical Activity Foundation, Ms Lucille Bailie, presented the bikes the foundation provided for the centre. The foundation’s activities include the active kids challenge and programs to encourage kids to be more active now but also to live a healthy lifestyle into the future.

I thank the Southern Cross school community, the staff, the chair of the school board, Mr Sujit Mukherjee, and all the parents there on the day for being so welcoming and enthusiastic about this fantastic new addition to their school, which is also a resource for all of the Belconnen school network.

Suicide prevention program

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (4.23): Last week I was very happy to launch the LivingWorks ASIST suicide prevention program. Every year in Australia suicide claims the lives of around 2,000 Australians, placing it ahead of road traffic incidents and skin cancer as a cause of death. For young people aged between 15 and 24, it is the number one cause of death.

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