Tuesday, 3 March 2020
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020; Second Reading
I rise to make my contribution on Appropriation Bill (No. 3). I'm very proud to be from south-western Sydney, which has long been an area of excellence for education. Our students consistently achieve remarkable results, and tertiary institutions, recognising the need to harness these great young minds, are setting up in our part of the world. The future is in their hands.
On 30 October last year I had the pleasure of visiting St Francis Xavier's Catholic Primary School in Lurnea for the CSIRO's STEM in Schools event. I was pleased to meet Ms Rearne Goodwin, whose class undertook a number of activities which developed the students' ideas to help fight climate change. Seeing such bright and aware young men and women working together to address one of the biggest challenges of our time was very rewarding.
STEM is such an important program to harness the bright young minds that I saw at St Francis Xavier. It is crucial for a number of reasons: it secures Australia's scientific and research future, and the jobs provided by these vital industries; it helps to solve local and global challenges such as climate change; and it continues Australia's proud history of being first in science and research. It secures Australia's scientific and research future and the jobs provided by these vital industries. It helps to solve local and global challenges such as climate change and continues Australia's proud history of being up first in science and research. I'd like to thank the principal, Gayle Reardon, and Ms Goodwin and all of the students at St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary School for welcoming me.
Many of the high schools in Werriwa spend the first several weeks of the new school year getting to know the year 7 cohort. They do this by spending time getting to know them in a project based learning environment. It's a collaborative way of learning that allows the students to get to know each other and allows the teachers to test in a safe environment the strengths and challenges of the group. It allows them to put students in literacy and numeracy groups so that they are able to improve and to start the joys of high school. It helps with planning and makes sure students are best placed to commence their next six years of school. Recently, I visited Lurnea High School, the school I attended, to spend Valentine's Day with the year 7 students. Lurnea High School has implemented this innovative program over the past six years to introduce the new year 7 cohort to high school. Students spend the first four weeks undertaking cooperative research, making and thinking about projects that will benefit their community or school. This year's projects were based on unattractive or unused parts of the school. They made plans to beautify the areas so they are versatile and useful space that encourage learning and recharging. Previous years have seen year 7 students design parks in the local area into green spaces that they as teenagers would use. A couple of years ago this work inspired flying foxes to be installed in one of our regional parks after several of these groups suggested it would be a very good idea. I especially enjoyed chatting to this year's students about their designs and models. The designs were costed and the presentation included a sales pitch to encourage investment by local businesses. Some of the sales pitches were really worthy of the best ad agencies, and even included the school motto. I'm not sure how the recharging stations for mobile devices in every design will work, given the limited number of power sockets versus the number of students with smart phones. However, I congratulate the students for their wonderful and enthusiastic work, and Ms Cahill for leading this project. I would also like to welcome Ms Kylie Landrigan to the school as Lurnea's new principal. I very much look forward to working with her.
The awareness of issues and developing of innovative solutions is nothing new to the region. Miller Technology High School has a similar induction program for its year 7 students. They were looking at ways to tackle homelessness and its causes and find solutions. I was pleased to be able to speak to them, and I took many and varied thought-provoking questions. One of the students suggested that the money that had been spent on New Year's fireworks could be better spent on providing housing for the less fortunate. It was something that I couldn't agree with more. The students at Miller Technology High School are only too aware of the inaction of the New South Wales government and the federal government on developing good policy to combat homelessness in our country. Between the 2011 and 2016 censuses the total number of homeless people in New South Wales increased by 27 per cent. A closer look at these numbers reveals our national shame in even more significant numbers. The census numbers reveal that between 2011 and 2016 the total number of people sleeping rough increased by 35 per cent and the total number living in severely crowded dwellings increased by 74 per cent. The number of people living in supported accommodation or boarding houses increased by 19 per cent. Over 2,000 of all homeless people in New South Wales are First Australians. I know that in electorates like mine there are lengthy waiting lists of up to 20 years for community housing. I've seen constituents who, though they are considered a priority with disabilities or other issues, have been on the list for over three years with no offers in sight. These are our most critically vulnerable people. Homelessness is not caused just by loss of employment. In the 2016 census, 17 per cent of the homeless population in New South Wales were employed full-time and over 16 per cent were employed part-time. Full-time workers who are homeless increased by 45 per cent in that five-year period. Part-time workers increased by 84 per cent. The fact that full-time and part-time workers are homeless shows just how much pressure real Australians are facing now. Many factors increase both the number of homeless and their vulnerability.
Councils, like at Liverpool City Council, have taken up the slack and have recently presented a draft Homelessness Strategy and Action Plan. In fact, people in the Liverpool area are facing some of the highest rates of drivers for homelessness anywhere in this state. This means that parts of Werriwa maybe facing some of the most extreme increases in homelessness into the future. We must develop policies in all areas of government to address both the homelessness crisis and the drivers that cause it.
The students at Miller High School know that providing housing that is affordable, safe and appropriate makes a profound difference in people's lives and it's just the right thing to do in a civilised country like ours. I'm pleased that the students across Werriwa are aware of these issues and aware of the lack of action from state and federal governments on the matter. We need to support our students and schools so their future can be in their hands.
It's on that note that I notice the local schools grant program is vastly inadequate for its purpose. In the last round of the grants program, schools in Werriwa requested $503,000 worth of funding for very worthy projects. Twelve schools in Werriwa were awarded a total of $200,000, but 11 further projects could not be given any funding—this is despite being assessed and classified as suitable. This shows that more should be done to ensure our schools have the support they need to provide our kids with the education they deserve.
To add to the costs that government is forcing others to pay, I turn to people with type 1 diabetes. The National Diabetes Services Scheme has historically supported those who have type 1 diabetes—a lifelong illness that a person who suffers for has done nothing to encourage. It's a disease that strikes randomly and without warning. It means that people with diabetes need to prick their finger up to 15 times a day just to work out what they need to do in terms of food, insulin and activity, and all to keep them healthy. The advent of continuous glucose monitoring and flash glucose monitoring means that every five minutes a person with diabetes automatically gets their results and then gives them the opportunity to choose what they need to do next. This incredible advancement has drastically improved control for all people with diabetes, reducing the pain and inconvenience of the dated pinprick method. In November 2018, the government announced flash glucose monitoring would join the NDIS continuous glucose monitoring scheme as of 1 March 2019. However, it wasn't until February 2020, after significant pressure, that the monitors were listed. They are, however, only accessible for people under 21 years old, females planning pregnancy or those who have concessional healthcare cards. Once you turn 21, have a child or once you start working again, subsidised access is lost. Let me remind the government, diabetes is a lifelong condition and complications can strike at any age. The costs for anyone outside these extremely limited criterion are prohibitive.
My constituent Renee Marshall came and saw me in January. Renee is an Australian netball umpire and represents her country officiating at major netball events. She's a young, vibrant woman who is active, and she also has type 1 diabetes. Like all people with diabetes, no matter their age, she wants to take the best care of herself to give herself the best life she can and avoid complications that will cost thousands of extra dollars a year to our health budget. I feel for Renee and all those people with type 1 diabetes around Australia. They do not have fair and equitable access to the technology. As Renee wrote to me:
I've never really been one to ask for a pity party, but I've been through enough and have seen many friends suffer from complications such as early onset glaucoma to let this one slip. I feel as though I'm being punished for not having decent enough control of my diabetes to not warrant an Ambulance call-out. Please when someone asks how we can improve our system, talk about type 1 and how complications can be prevented.
Minister, this is someone who, like all members on this side, is pleading for you to help. There is social and budgetary value in ensuring people like Renée, and all people with type 1 diabetes, can access this technology—like others can in different countries around the world. I call on the government to make the NDSS fair and equitable and to allow people with type 1 diabetes to access this technology.
Thankfully, there are groups in Werriwa that have long supported the community and the important services that primary healthcare providers give to the region. I want to acknowledge the Friends of India Australia for their recent donation of $6,000 to Liverpool Hospital's mental health unit. This donation enabled the purchase of cardiorespiratory bikes for the assessment of patients in the unit. For a long period of time, Liverpool Hospital's mental health unit has been the primary care provider for people in south-west Sydney who have acute mental health needs. As our awareness and acceptance of mental health needs increase, so does our understanding of the influences of our mental wellbeing. We are starting to see very strong links between mental and physical health and fitness. In the face of this, people who suffer severe mental health issues tend to develop metabolic and cardiovascular disease. The donation from the Friends of India Australia and the subsequent purchase by Liverpool Hospital is an important step for the people of south-west Sydney.
Again, I thank the Friends of India for their generosity and continuing love and care for our community. They were out again on the weekend for Clean Up Australia. Our diverse community does much for us, and it is wonderful.