Public education is vital for Canberra’s prosperity

Public education is vital for Canberra’s prosperity

Public education plays a vital role in Canberra’s prosperity. An informed and educated population is critical.

I am the President of the Parents & Citizens (P&C) at my children’s school, and an active member of the ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations. I have been part of these great organisations for 5 years, since my children started school. The election priorities of the Council guide my education policies.

Modern infrastructure

Gungahlin needs a second college as our population surges. Gungahlin College is doing well to cope with capacity demands, but enough is enough.

I have committed to securing a second college in the Gungahlin Region. I would like to see Gold Creek School become the first P-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) public school in Australia. The IB Diploma is an optional extension to the secondary school certificate.

Public education should offer the same opportunities as private education.

Great libraries, professionally staffed

School is about teachers, students, and classrooms, but it is also so much more. Education has changed since I left school 20 years ago, and I see the opportunities that my children will enjoy.

We need to continue to support those teachers and classrooms, however we also need to support that “so much more” bit too. I support the Council’s call for permanent library spaces, and teacher librarians to be made available for every school. This is a role that is important in developing a life-long love of learning.

Nurtured students

As with most things in Gungahlin, we are playing catch up with one of the most critical – the mental health and wellbeing of our young people. The wait for a student to have an initial school psychologist appointment can be half a year.

That is completely unacceptable.

Every student should have reliable and prompt access to appropriate mental health support at school.

Currently, mental health resources are measured as a ratio of psychologists to students. I believe this is the wrong measure, and would instead look at tangible help available to students in a reasonable timeframe. More psychologists is certainly part of the solution, but wait times is a more critical problem than how many psychologists are available.

Incidentally, the current ratio is about 1 psychologist to 600 students, and that is not necessarily a full time psychologist.

Safe and responsive schools

In my role with the Parents & Citizens Association, I sometimes have parents speak to me about problems their children are having at school. Fortunately, my children are at a great school that does their best to be responsive and safe. There are times however when a family still needs to fight for the safety of their child.

I support the calls from Council for a new family-centred reporting and complaints-handling process and the full implementation of recommendations of the ACT Government inquiry into the management and minimisation of bullying and violence in ACT schools.

Strong communities

As an active P&C President of 5 years, I see the benefits of developing a strong school community. This volunteer-led job is tough, and some committees get it right, but others do not. When a committee changes, results can change with it.

This is an area of passion for me, and I would like to go further than what P&C Council is calling for. More than a Family Engagement Officer, I will call for the creation of a School Community Engagement Officer position at each public school. This person will work with families, the school, and the P&C to build and foster the school community. They will help guide incoming P&C Committees, and be their rock at school.


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