Thursday, 5 March 2020
My question is to the Minister for Education. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is working with the education sector to ensure that the education sector is well prepared to meet the challenge of coronavirus?
Can I thank the member for his question; I know his passion for education and his interest in this area, and it's an incredibly important question. As the Prime Minister said earlier, the national coordination mechanism has been established, and that will provide the overarching framework for coordinating the national response to the coronavirus, to COVID-19. Education will be a key component of this overarching framework.
Last Friday, I held a hook-up with all state and territory education ministers to discuss planning preparedness in the childcare sector and the school sector. Also, I've held discussions with Universities Australia about the higher education sector, and discussions have been had with the vocational education sector.
For the information of everyone in the House, there are fact sheets, which are available for schools and early childhood centres for their students and parents. And I would ask everyone to make sure that their childcare centres and their schools in their electorates are aware of these fact sheets and know that they are there and they are available, because it's absolutely vital that we get the necessary information out. There's also information for universities, private higher education providers, vocational education facilities and private vocational education providers, for their students and their staff. I would say to all members: please make sure you're aware of those fact sheets and you know that they're available for your constituents if they have any concerns or are seeking information.
Can I thank the state and territory education ministers for the very responsible way that they've been dealing with the coronavirus. They have wanted to make sure that there is seamless information flow between the Commonwealth and the states and territories. I continue to speak to them on a daily basis, sometimes on a weekly basis, to make sure all that information is there.
Can I also thank the higher education sector, Universities Australia, for the coordination role they're taking. They are making sure that all our universities have in place plans to deal with coronavirus, to make sure that if staff members or a student happen to be unwell, to need attention, then they have in place the plans to deal with that.
It's incredibly important as a nation that we are prepared for this, that we have the facts there and that we keep the community calm. That is exactly what the government is doing, working cooperatively with everyone. (Time expired)