Senate debates

Friday, 17 November 2023

Statements by Senators

Youth Voice in Parliament Week

1:40 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I'm proud to share the words of Arina, a young person from WA, who raises concerns shared by me and many others who have journeyed through the Australian education system. They say:

Dear Parliament,

My name is Arina, I'm 15 years old and my electorate is Curtin. One issue that I want to see change in is the ATAR program.

While it may be viewed as a fair and objective measure of a student's academic performance, I firmly believe that the ATAR system has serious flaws that undermine its effectiveness and ultimately harm our students' well-being.

The ATAR system promotes an unhealthy obsession with grades and competition. It reduces the value of education to a mere number, forcing students into a never-ending race for the highest score. It also fails to recognize diverse talents and abilities.

Every student has unique skills and strengths that may not necessarily be reflected in their academic performance alone. By solely relying on standardized exams and scores, the ATAR system disregards other crucial aspects of a student's character, such as leadership, community involvement, and creativity.

Furthermore, the ATAR system places immense pressure on students, leading to mental health issues. The relentless quest for high scores often results in extreme stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Politicians, I strongly urge you to change the ATAR system. We need a system that values individual growth, fosters development, and recognizes the unique talents and abilities of students.

Arina, I could not agree with you more. The system needs to change. Until it does, we will have a system that does not recognise the full diversity of student strength. Good luck to all of the students making their way through the ATAR exams at this time.


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