Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 August 2017) . . Page.. 2823 ..
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (4.47): I want to thank Ms Orr for bringing this important matter on through a motion before the Assembly today. I do not think there should ever be a time that people in this place should tire of talking about one of the most important things in our community: the education of our young people.
This motion sets out the important work that the government is doing to support the ACT’s young people through our education system. I am very happy to take responsibility for this portfolio. I have been working very hard with my team and the Education Directorate to deliver on the commitments the government made during the election. I regularly take the opportunity to update members in this place on all the things that are happening, so I will focus my remarks on reminding members of a couple of the highlights.
As we move through debate on the 2017-18 budget, members should take note of the significant investment the government is making in education. Our priorities are clear for the community to see, and education is an important priority, with a total investment of $1.2 billion. The ACT government has a proud record of investing in education as a fundamental expression of our values. The government is increasingly ensuring that it targets education investment according to need, and the 2017-18 budget continues this work. In the next few sitting days during the budget debate, members will hear more about the initiatives included in the budget, like new and expanded schools, school upgrades, modernisation, technology-enabled learning, teacher scholarships, teacher support and student mental health support.
School funding has recently been a high profile issue because of decisions that have been taken by the federal coalition. They broke their existing funding and school improvement agreement with the ACT and pushed through their changes unilaterally. It has been a frustrating process for states and territories, and non-government school managers, who were provided with very little detail about the actual impact of these changes as they progressed. Regardless, I have consistently upheld the ACT government’s election commitment to implement and actively advocate for needs-based school funding, in line with the existing six-year deal.
I spoke just yesterday about some of the important things the government is doing to support school leaders, teachers and support staff by making sure that they are safe at work. But we also know that they need to be developed and empowered to provide the best possible education for the ACT’s children. The ACT has an excellent track record in teacher professional development. The work of Anne Ellis and her team at the ACT Teacher Quality Institute is regarded by many as the best in Australia. Their focus on building the capability of the profession, rather than just blunt regulation, is a vital part of ensuring continuing improvement to school education in the ACT.
Members might be interested to know that the ACT is strongly represented among the ranks of teachers certified at the highly accomplished and lead levels of Australia’s