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Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Page: 4357

Mr SIMPKINS (4:00 PM) —I would like you to know that the suburb of Ballajura, in the east of the Cowan electorate, is served by very good schools. One of those schools is the Mary MacKillop Catholic Community Primary School on Cassowary Drive. The school is well led by its principal, James Danaher, and the local parish priest, Father John Jegorow. On a visit to the school some time ago I was having a conversation with a staff member, Mrs Sharon Evans, about the support-a-reader program run at the Mary MacKillop Catholic Community Primary School. The program provides support where reluctant or struggling readers are allocated adult volunteer helpers who come into the school and read with the student. The student and the helper then take turns reading, using a proven system which has achieved great results in many schools. Each student receives 15 minutes of one-on-one time most days of the week. The volunteers come primarily from the school community in the form of dedicated parents and grandparents. It is worth noting that success in helping children to read is not achieved through a one-off session. It is achieved through a level of consistent trust and understanding, as provided by these volunteers, which enables children to overcome their reluctance to read.

I have said before in this House that one of the most important things to young children is to be able to fit in. They do not want to feel different or inadequate and therefore alienated from the opportunities of education. Through support-a-reader, children who struggle with literacy are supported, and they are helped to attain levels consistent with those of their peers. It is a great program that works very well for the students at Mary MacKillop Catholic Community Primary School.

I commend the volunteers for their commitment to our future generations at the school. In particular I commend the volunteers George Hancock, Margaret O’Keefe, Julie Powell, Julia Durack, Maris Filippis, Sally Anne Cross, Yvonne Stevens, Adrienne Grygorcewicz, Deb Harris, Eve Thoroughgood, Anne Rector, Tracey Inwood, Sharon Gayski, Bernece Vitetta, Michele Mitchell and Maria Makinson. On 18 May I visited the school and presented these volunteers with certificates of my appreciation for the great work they do as volunteers. Clearly these are the sorts of people who make this country great and our communities strong. I would also like to mention that for her work in the area of literacy Sharon Evans, the teacher, recently received an Award of Excellence from the Australian Council for Educational Leaders. I congratulate Sharon for the award and her ongoing commitment to the children at Mary MacKillop Catholic Community Primary School.