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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7304

Ms VAMVAKINOU (12:35 PM) —I commend the member for Tangney for raising the issue of bowel cancer screening and I support his call to make the test available to people generally who are over 50. I know the importance of that.

Today I want to speak about the massive investment the Rudd Labor government has been making in our schools, in our colleges, in our higher education institutions and in training facilities—an investment which has enormous implications for Australia’s future. My electorate of Calwell includes some of the most disadvantaged suburbs in Victoria, if not in Australia. Poverty, unemployment, health and housing problems are a challenging reality for many families in the area. We are working to address these issues at various points through income support; through job training and, more importantly, retraining; through policies to support local industries and therefore local jobs; through health services; through affordable housing—the list goes on. Nothing can be more important in the battle to break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage than improving educational opportunities. That is why I believe that serious investment in our schools really does represent an education revolution.

One of the first steps this government took when it came to office was to fulfil its promise of upgrading access to computer technology for Australian secondary students. The National Secondary Schools Computer Fund will provide more than 2,300 new computers for use by secondary students in my electorate of Calwell. Schools which have been funded under the program include Gladstone Park Secondary College, Salesian College Rupertswood, Ilim College, Broadmeadows Special Development School, Craigieburn Secondary College, Hume Central Secondary College, Roxsburgh College, Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School, Sunbury College, Sunbury Downs Secondary College, Aitken College, Penola College, Isik College and St Mary’s Coptic Orthodox College.

We all know how important the ability to use information technology is to succeed in the world. For the generation still at school, this knowledge is more vital than ever. Our children need access to computers to keep up with knowledge and information that is expanding at a staggering rate every day. They need to understand their options, to find work that is meaningful and satisfying, and to fully participate in the community as informed and engaged citizens. Part of the Rudd government’s $2 billion Digital Education Revolution is aimed at giving secondary school students access to world-class information and communication technology. As well as the national secondary schools computer program, we now have significant investment in school buildings and infrastructure through the programs collectively known as Building the Education Revolution.

Under the National School Pride program, this government has made it possible for schools to complete minor works and upgrades that will improve the learning environment for pupils and teachers. In my electorate, $8.9 million has been made available across the government, Catholic and independent sectors. Under Primary Schools for the 21st Century an impressive $70 million has been committed in my electorate alone to construct much needed facilities for the local students. This is a massive boost to our local economy in a difficult time of global downturn. There is still another round of funding under the Primary Schools for the 21st Century to be announced. I am looking for more funding for the schools in my electorate.

This massive investment in our schools by the Rudd government is complemented by the commitment of the Brumby government in Victoria. The Victorian government has initiated the Broadmeadows Schools Regeneration Project in the southern part of my electorate to help reorganise, rebuild and reinvigorate our local state schools, both primary and secondary. In the most recent state budget, the Brumby government announced $4 million for stage 2 of construction of a new senior secondary campus in Broadmeadows. This is in addition to the $12 million allocated in last year’s state budget for stage 1 of the project. The school is due for completion in the middle of 2010.

The federal and state Labor governments have committed a combined $5.75 million for a new, state-of-the-art primary school, the Broadmeadows Valley Primary School, which combines four smaller existing schools. Construction of this school is well underway and it will open at the start of the 2010 school year. Adjacent to this new school will be a brand new early childhood centre, also funded by the Rudd government. In addition, the Rudd government’s programs extend to supporting infrastructure development in TAFE colleges, including Kangan Batman TAFE in my electorate, and at the higher education level investing in universities, ensuring that many more students from disadvantaged areas are supported in accessing tertiary education and funding the full cost of research. I am proud of the achievements so far of this government and I am proud of the very real impact its commitment to education is having and will continue to have in my electorate. (Time expired)