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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 724

Ms HALL (9:35 PM) —When members leave this place and return to their electorate it is an opportunity to see how the programs and legislation that have passed through this parliament work and also to connect with the communities that they represent. Last week, when I was back in the electorate, I was privileged to visit three schools: Mannering Park Public School, Valentine Public School and Belmont High School. In addition to that I met with and was interviewed by students from St Joseph’s Primary School, which is situated at Charlestown.

I will start with my visit to Mannering Park Public School. It was for the swearing in of the leadership team. That leadership team is going to be at the forefront of all decisions that are made in that school. They are role models for the students who attend that school and they make policy decisions for the school. They implement the rules of the school. They are a very special group of students. In addition to meeting with the school leadership group and pinning the badges on, I also had a look and inspected the new classrooms, the Aboriginal education room and the outdoor area that had been built with the Building the Education Revolution money.

Mannering Park Public School is a school that has a number of disadvantaged students attending it. It is not a school situated in a wealthy area, but it is a school that is situated in a beautiful area that has in the past struggled for finances to build the kinds of classrooms that it needed and to get the kind of equipment that has become available to it. It gave me great pleasure to see the Building the Education Revolution money spent in such a positive way within the school.

I also visited Valentine Public School for the swearing in of the school parliament and I presented the badges to the library monitors as well. At the school parliament I shook hands with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition and I learned of the various portfolios that all the students held. Once again it is an example of students being involved and learning about the political process within their own area. It is a very positive experience to see how these young people are learning about and demonstrating leadership and learning about the political process on the ground in their school. It was a real pleasure to visit Valentine Public School.

Later that day I also met the new principal of Belmont High School, Geoffrey Robinson, who has come to Belmont High School from Moree. He succeeded Peter Morgan, who is one of the most outstanding educators I have ever had the privilege to meet. Peter retired as principal of Belmont High School at the end of last year but he maintains his interest in education and he continues to send me his thoughts on educational issues along with articles that he feels are very important for my education. He is working still within the education sector as a consultant.

I also met the school captains of Belmont High School, which I thought was a very good move by the principal. We talked about things within the school. I asked them to look over some of the information that I put together in a book I give to students about looking at the future—a school leavers kit. I talked to them about the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing inquiry into youth suicide that is taking place at the moment. I asked them whether or not they would be interested in being involved in a forum with school leaders later in the year. It was a very exciting experience visiting all the schools back in my electorate and it was great meeting with the students from St Joseph’s Catholic school and being interviewed by them for the local newspaper.