Page 4043 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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So I encourage all women in Canberra to, as I did today, jump on the phone and call 132050 to make an appointment. For those women who may not have the courage to go alone, because it can be a scary process, you can make group bookings. If you want to get a group of girlfriends together and then go for lunch afterwards, I say, “Do it!” I again encourage women in the ACT to get your boobs out, check them well and give BreastScreen ACT a call.

Volunteering in schools

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (6.52): My children are enrolled in three different ACT schools. I am grateful that they get to grow up with easy access to quality education. We parents understand personally the role education plays in growing strong individuals who can think critically, reason logically and act for themselves, even, perhaps especially, when that means not blindly following the crowd.

Essential to the educational enterprise are many dedicated, hard-working teachers. My children have overwhelmingly been taught by capable and passionate professionals who accelerate their students’ personal development and instil in them a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

Today I pay tribute to these teachers. We have always asked much of our teachers: to instruct, to guide, to provide gentle but effective discipline, to create engaging learning environments and so forth. In recent years many have argued that we have begun to ask too much of our teachers, often leaving them overworked and underappreciated.

A recent national survey of 2,000 teachers found that 73 per cent of them thought their workloads had noticeably increased just in the past year. More than two-thirds of those surveyed said that they were working more than 46 hours a week and nearly one-quarter of them reported working more than 55 hours a week.

As a result of these and other pressures, almost one in five schoolteachers is currently looking to leave the profession, according to the findings of another study. Because teachers now have to do so many additional tasks at school, they are often left doing much of their prepping and marking at home. This same study found that Australian teachers on average spent 20 per cent of their holidays either going into work or working from home.

I have tried to support the teachers at my children’s schools however I could. I have volunteered to read to kids one morning each week before the school day started and I have helped with various school events—cooking, serving and cleaning. Being engaged through my children’s schools has always felt like the right thing to do, and I am grateful that I have been able to be involved.

I therefore felt disappointed to read in last Saturday’s Canberra Times about the volunteering crisis that is affecting a large number of Canberra schools. Nearly half of the territory’s P&Cs are struggling to fill all committee positions and three college

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