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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 2017) . . Page.. 3110 ..

such as the Indigenous education centre being opened at Campbell high, but it would appear with no additional funds, a program which includes the employment of two early career Aboriginal educators. That program also includes developing cultural awareness in students throughout the school. This, we know, can make a difference in overcoming racism, which continues to play a major role in poor educational outcomes for Indigenous children.

But the program is more than that. Drawing on existing research, the program will target engagement and attendance as two key steps to improving the learning outcomes of Indigenous students, many of whom lack the equivalent of two years of learning. This is where the funding focus should be for this government: supporting programs that increase the engagement and attendance both at schools and at NAPLAN, and supporting programs which will impact directly on closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

It is appalling that all the director-general could say, when asked why they lagged in NAPLAN results, was that it was a good question. Her further response, that there is not any research, is insulting to the many researchers who have spent the past 40 years both understanding the problem and working on solutions.

I refer the minister and her directorate to the 2016 paper produced by the Productivity Commission on Indigenous primary school achievement, which will provide them with an excellent overview of the research available, successes and failures across Australia, including the ACT. The report includes a detailed time line of the many state and territory reviews that have been conducted over the past 40 years. Yes, it is a complex area but there really is no excuse for the response, especially in light of the University of Canberra’s Chris Sera’s subsequent comments that the outcomes could be turned around quickly, that is, according to Dr Sera, if the education department decided to do what is necessary.

We therefore call on the government to consider funding for the initiatives to close the gap in educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. We agree with the estimates committee’s recommendations that the ACT government set clear targets on closing the gap in percentage points for each year of NAPLAN and the report on those targets.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate—Part 1.10.

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (3.28): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this area of appropriations. The portfolio of Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development is a large one by any measure, and it is a directorate of growth.

From an actual staffing level in 2015-16 of 307 full-time equivalents, it has grown to 690 for the 2017-18 year. The notes to budget paper E indicate that the increase is due to various transfers, starting with parks and conservation in July 2016, the Asbestos Response Taskforce in November 2016 and land policy and urban renewal functions from 1 July 2017.

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