Page 3090 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 22 August 2017

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It is important to note, of course, that young people and children have a right to education, and so does a worker have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. Both of these rights can work together and that is the plan for this occupational violence plan and policy work, that those two rights can meet in the middle and can provide all the opportunities to our children and our teachers for a safe and happy school environment.

Through the expert advice of the Australian Education Union, the ACT government committed to, and has funded in the budget, additional psychologists in our schools to make sure that we meet the needs of our students and families should they need that support. This was a decision that was made following conversations with the education community to ensure that we were meeting the needs of students in our schools.

We have also provided funding to ensure that assistance continues to support teachers to meet the needs of students in our schools. That has also been budgeted for to make sure that teachers and school principals are supported in making sure that our kids get the best education possible.

Funding has been provisioned for the purchase of Chromebook-type devices in our schools that will be able to support children in their learning. But it is more important to make sure it is understood that every child, no matter what their background or ability, can have access to a device, that everybody has the same device and that that can be used to make sure they get equal access to the best learning outcomes.

It also helps teachers because then teachers only have to learn about one particular tablet or device within a school environment rather than having to be an expert on every single one. Rolling out Chromebooks or tablet devices in our schools will be the best way for kids to be able to have equal access to the best technology they need to ensure they have the best education.

Also funded in the budget is the work going towards developing an early childhood strategy. There has not been an early childhood strategy in the ACT. Arising from the conversations I have started with the early childhood education and care sector, I understand that they are very keen to get to work on what that strategy might look like as an important part of the future-of-education conversation. We all know that the early years of a child’s education are the most important. So making sure that we have a strategy that takes that into account in the ACT is important.

As part of this budget, $85 million will go towards expanding four schools in Gungahlin, as well as continued upgrades to Belconnen High School. The costs of the Belconnen High School upgrades will exceed $23 million. They will finally bring that school up to a standard that will meet the growing needs of the Belconnen and west Belconnen community and, importantly, ensure that the schools in Gungahlin meet the needs of that growing community as well.

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