2021 State Election Education Forum
On Wednesday the 17th of February 2021, at the 2021 WACSSO Election Forum, we saw education spokespeople from the Western Australian Labor, Liberal, Greens and Nationals take to the stage to discuss essential issues in WA public education and highlight their party’s vision for the future. It was great to see parents and carers from throughout the State attended in person and via the Facebook live stream. We also had several education stakeholders attending the event as VIP guests.
The panellists received a copy of the WACSSO 2021 State Election Position Paper leading up to the event regarding issues highlighted by parents and carers in WA. The document helped inform conversation throughout the night. Affiliates can find a copy of the position paper on the WACSSO website.
P&Cs were encouraged to send through questions to be addressed by panellists during the event. Thank you to Westminster Schools P&C, Rosalie Primary School P&C, Mayland Peninsula Primary P&C, John Curtin College of the Arts P&C, Sorrento Primary P&C, Glencoe Primary School P&C, Champion Bay SHS P&C, Bayswater Primary School P&C, Munglinup Primary School P&C and Beaconsfield Primary School P&C for submitting questions.
The Education Forum started with a beautiful Welcome to Country from Vaughn McGuire. Vaughn explained the relationship between education and the power of storytelling, sharing the diversity of knowledge and how it takes shape in different forms. He also emphasised the importance of passing on education to future generations. WACSSO would like to thank Vaughn for his contributions to the Election Forum.
Event MC Andrea Burns then invited panellists to introduce themselves and their party’s policies and vision relating to public education.
The Minister for Education and Labor representative, Hon Sue Ellery MLC took to the stage. Some of the main points highlighted by Minister Ellery were the Labor Party’s additional $355 million to school infrastructure, increasing future career pathways for students by adding an extra 9000 VET course positions, and addressing student wellbeing through increasing the number of school psychologists.
Shadow Minister for Education and Liberal representative, Hon Donna Faragher MLC emphasised the critical early years of a child’s education. Her party aims to facilitate a “best start to life” approach with a $50 million commitment to programs and services such as early identification of learning difficulties, extra child and parent centres and more. Mrs Faragher also highlighted her party’s other plans to increase school psychologist and chaplaincy services and offer additional school infrastructure funding.
Greens education spokesperson, Hon Alison Xamon MLC had a strong focus on student mental health and wellbeing. Ms Xamon spoke of the importance of providing young people with access to mental health and wellbeing support at school. Ms Xamon also suggested that schools did not have adequate resourcing to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), acknowledging her party’s future support to this area. As COVID-19 came into the debate, Ms Xamon inferred that the vulnerability of many schools capacity to provided remote learning was apparent, suggesting schools needed further ICT resourcing to address the issue.
Nationals education spokesperson, Hon Peter Rundle MLA spoke on his party’s focus on ensuring that students from regional schools receive equitable education outcomes. Mr Rundle discussed the WA Nationals recent commitment to support regional parent associations through $10 million in funding, offering dollar-for-dollar assistance of up to $5000 for each association. He discussed the lack of swimming competency in many regional areas and how his party plans to support initiatives to increase swimming programs participation levels. Mr Rundle also spoke on ICT, School Bus Services and access to Kindy programs in regional areas.
The Education Forum proceeded into question time, with questions about supporting school clubs; sustainability in schools; onsite school care facilities; school maintenance; student mental health and wellbeing; and NAPLAN. Panellists answered each question, highlighting their party’s plans and commitments to address these issues.
The 2021 WACSSO State Election Education Forum showed how passionate parents, carers, political education spokespeople and education stakeholders are about public education, suggesting a promising future for government schools in our State.
You can view the full Education Forum recording under ‘Videos’ on WACSSO’s Facebook page.