27 September 2023

PS from the PaSt: 25 April – 1 May 2012

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1. This week 10 years ago, State and Territory Ministers for Education agreed to national categories to define disability in schools.

Parliamentary Secretary for School Education, Senator Jacinta Collins said the new consistent categories would go a long way towards benefiting schoolchildren with disability.

Known as “descriptors for adjustments”, the categories indicate whether a school needs extensive, substantial, supplementary, or no adjustment to its operations to meet the Standards for Education under the Disability Discrimination Act.

“Data collected under these new categories will tell us the extent of change that schools are making to support students with disability,” Senator Collins said.

2. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr announced Australia would sign up to the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership (SWA) to support improved access to safe water and basic sanitation for the world’s poor.

Mr Carr said the SWA was an important partnership between developing countries, donors, multilateral agencies, and civil society.

“In Australia, we are fortunate to have access to clean, safe drinking water and modern water and sewage systems,” Senator Carr said.

“Yet for many of the world’s poor, the simple act of quenching their thirst is fraught with danger.”

3. Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett announced a new focus on increasing awareness of Asian culture and languages in Australian schools and a further four years of core funding for the Asia Education Foundation, which aimed to equip young Australians with knowledge, skills and understandings of the countries and cultures of Asia.

“Australia’s engagement with Asia is crucial to our nation’s future,” Mr Garrett said, “which is why we must ensure Australian school students are well informed about Asian culture and are encouraged to study Asian languages.”

4. Staying with education, Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett also announced teachers in every Australian school would undergo a yearly performance assessment under plans in the draft Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework, which was produced by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

The plan proposed teachers set performance goals every year and demonstrate how those goals had been met. Mr Garrett said the final framework would be implemented in Australian schools from 2013.

“It’s vital that our teachers have the opportunity to both demonstrate their skills and improve their classroom practice through regular and effective feedback, professional growth and development, and performance assessment, but until now this has not been consistently occurring,” Mr Garrett said.

5. Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon announced the appointment of a new national Children’s Commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission to focus on promoting the rights, wellbeing and development of children and young people in Australia. Ms Roxon said the new Commissioner would take office by the end of 2012.

“For the first time, Australia will have a dedicated advocate focused on the human rights of children and young people at the national level,” Ms Roxon said.

“The Children’s Commissioner will ensure the voices of children and young people are heard in the development of Commonwealth policies and programs.”

6. And a decade ago in Queensland, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Jarrod Bleijie announced the resurrection of laws imposing jail sentences on Public Servants and politicians found to be lying to Parliament.

Mr Bleijie said the laws would help improve the integrity and accountability of the State’s political process and would apply to anyone providing information to Parliament or to a committee of Parliament.

“Knowingly giving false evidence before the Parliament or one of its committees is conduct cutting to the heart of parliamentary privilege and is deserving of criminal sanction,” Mr Bleijie said.

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