Jeremy Travers | Chair of the Formal, Fundraising and Yearbook Committees Eagle Vale High School 4 Gidley Crescent Claymore NSW 2559
0 I am writing to you as a year 12 student at Eagle Vale High School in New South Wales, which is located in Claymore, the area we all know best as that having been described as 'the most disadvantaged community in Australia' by a recent Griffith University report. As we all know, the New South Wales Labor Government has released the list of schools that have made it into the National Partnerships Scheme for the next two years. Despite this research, no school in the Claymore area (Eagle Vale High School or Claymore Public School respectfully) made it onto this list. I refer you to part of your answer from the question by the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr. Hayes) who asked you about the government's 'national reform agenda for school education.' You said the following to the House in response to that question: Using this ABS data, the best we have at this stage, the New South Wales government has published a preliminary list of schools selected to participate in this new partnership. The Rudd government has been clear that this is a list for consultation. Clearly, the limitation of the data available through the ABS is shown by the fact that schools like Claymore and Macquarie Fields are not on this list. It is obvious to everyone who has been to those schools and to those communities, as I have—and the member for Werriwa is intimately familiar with Macquarie Fields—that this data is not giving us the full picture and that these schools and communities need assistance, need our partnership and need our help. We can do better, and we must do better, by pushing ahead with the transparency reforms that are part of the Rudd government's education revolution.1 The next day, when the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr. Farmer) raised the fact that Claymore and Macquarie Fields had not made it onto the list, and that there was a bit of blame-shifting on the government's part, you told the House: Faced with this track record of neglect, we stepped up to the plate to take responsibility for making a difference. And how are we making that difference? A new national partnership for disadvantaged schools is part of it. As the member who asked the question would have known if he had listened to my answer yesterday which he sought to misrepresent in this place, the list published about New South Wales is a list for consultation using ABS data—that is true—because what was available was ABS data. What we are doing with our transparency reforms, which are opposed by the Liberals in New South Wales—maybe you should speak to the Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales about that—is to build the information we actually need to make sure that educational resources and efforts can be brought to bear, particularly in those schools that need them the most, where students are not getting an education that will serve them well for the rest of their lives and where the kids come from school bearing the disadvantages of a poor background. We are building that.2 I respectfully put it to you, Deputy Prime Minister, that the people on the ground—the people that will be most affected by this loss of funding—had not been consulted. It seems that your government was given a mandate by the Australian people but is relying solely on advice from members of the Public Service and the Australian Bureau of Statistics rather than the input of the community. It seems as if the forgotten people of Claymore cannot get a fair shake of the sauce bottle. It also appears to me that rather than actually delivering on promises to help disadvantaged schools, there has been a lot of blame-shifting and inability to actually get on with the task at hand. I am a year 12 student at
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Hansard, Wednesday 12 August 2009 p.58-59 of Hansard, Thursday 13 August 2009 Ph: (02) 4628 6589 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | M: 0404 132 880
one of these schools that missed out; I can confidently tell you that our resources are thin although our teachers are the best in the State, and that our students do the best we can with what we have got. All we are asking is for 'that extra push' to help us get ahead in life. I know many people who are determined to get ahead in the future, no matter the circumstances. Myself, I have plans on going to university to study politics followed by a political career. I guess I just want to help people and there is no better place for me to start helping than this. Let me explain it this wayâ€”Senators and members of the House are always preaching that they want to help disadvantaged schools anyway they can but I, along with students and teachers I go to school with, fail to see the action. To us, it is only words. In the interests of showing you firsthand what things are like for us, I am more than happy to invite you to visit our schools before you decide to deprive us of much needed funding. I await your reply.
The Honourable Julia Gillard, M.P. Deputy Prime Minister; and Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations PO Box 6022 House of Representatives CANBERRA ACT 2600
On 20 August 2009, I wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister regarding education policy.