Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 August 2016) . . Page.. 2551 ..
when a Labor government give the portfolio of education to somebody who is not in the Labor Party. Then when someone announces more money for helping our disabled kids in our schools they are criticised for doing so. That is, I think, reflective of just how far the government have drifted from their core Labor values. You are on a tram to nowhere.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Corrections, Minister for Education, Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs and Minister for Road Safety) (8.48): I am pleased to speak to this year’s education budget. The government through this budget has chosen to invest in five key areas, each linked to improving student outcomes through quality learning, inspirational teaching and leadership, setting high expectations for high performance, connecting with families and school communities, and driving business improvements and innovation in education.
Right across the ACT public schooling system we are getting a growing number of students in our schools. The census showed a 14.9 per cent increase in the past five years. To me this a reflector of what the community thinks of public schooling; they know public schooling in the ACT is a good outcome. Parents are choosing to enrol their children in a public school, safe in the knowledge that they will receive a high quality education from kindergarten right through to college.
One of the key things in this budget is implementation of the schools for all program. The government is responding to all 40 recommendations of the schools for all report with $7.267 million in 2016-17 and a total of nearly $22 million over four years. Some of this initiative is partially funded from within existing resources in education, as I have made clear. But this is not just about delivering the 50 recommendations in the report; it is also about the cultural change. That is why this program is set down to take place over three years to give time to both delivering those 50 recommendations and to embed them in a way that drives a serious cultural change in our education system so that the spirit of that report is delivered as well as the specifics.
The schools for all funding will strengthen the capacity of schools to support students and their families, through an additional 26 full-time allied health positions. This initiative delivers services, training and resources to support long-term educational outcomes for students with complex needs and challenging behaviours, as well as assessment and intervention for students with developmental delays and disabilities. We are bringing on four additional social workers and four additional senior psychologists to respond through the network student engagement teams in an acknowledgement of the concerns raised by teachers and principals that they are concerned about student wellbeing and mental health issues in their schools.
Combining this with a more efficient referral and case management system should serve to address some of these concerns. The directorate will continue to keep a close eye on this over the next year to see what progress we are making. I think these are important steps, and we need to keep looking at whether they are delivering the outcomes aspired to, whether more effort needs to be put in and whether it is addressing some of the gaps that are there.