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The Directorate undertakes regular community engagement activities through community consultation processes, stakeholder relations and community partnership programs. The Directorate's community engagement activities are aligned with the ACT Government's community engagement initiative.

The Director-General and other Directorate staff meet on a regular basis with the executive of the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, the Australian Education Union, the Catholic Education Office, the Association of Independent Schools and the ACT Principals' Association to discuss key issues and progress on major initiatives.

Major advisory and consultation groups

Government and Non-government Schools Education Councils

The Government Schools Education Council and the Non-government Schools Education Council provide opportunities for the community to have an important role in formulating advice to the Government on public and non-government school education policy.

Community and education members representing significant stakeholder groups form the membership of both councils. The Directorate provides secretariat support for these councils including compilation of their annual reports which are annexed to this report.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Consultative Group

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Consultative Group (the Group) consults with ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to provide advice to the ACT and Commonwealth Governments on education and training programs and initiatives under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan (the Plan).

The Group continued to meet regularly during 2011-12 and contributed to a number of policy directions including the Australian Curriculum, the Review of Funding for Schooling and the Plan. The Group held four community forums to provide information and receive feedback about local and national policies and programs. The Group also contributed to the design process of new schools to foster a culturally inclusive environment.

The Group participated in the 2011 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Conference in Darwin. The conference presented a valuable opportunity for professional development, team building and to refine the focus of the Group.

ACT Safe Schools Taskforce

The ACT Safe Schools Taskforce (the Taskforce) provides a forum to discuss concerns raised by stakeholders, the Minister and the community relating to school safety. The Taskforce continued to meet regularly during 2011-12 to discuss and develop innovative solutions to address ongoing and emerging school safety concerns.

The Taskforce is made up of representatives from the Directorate, the Catholic Education Office, ACT Association of Independent Schools, ACT Policing, the Youth Advisory Council, the ACT Principals' Association, unions, school parent associations, the Canberra Preschool Society and the Human Rights Commission.

Key achievements of the Taskforce included strengthening links with ACT Policing, advising on the nature of school safety audits and reviewing policies that provide guidance and direction to schools in promoting safe school environments.

The Taskforce supported the Directorate's 'It's a Matter of Respect' countering racism conference opened by Minister Bourke on 16 March 2012, as part of activities for the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. Teachers and students from public and non-government schools gained a greater understanding of the impact of racism and developed strategies to counter racism in schools.

Disability Education Reference Group

The Disability Education Reference Group (DERG) is a community consultative forum convened by the Director-General. The DERG provides an opportunity for the community to formulate advice to the Directorate on the education of students with a disability in ACT public schools.

Membership of the DERG includes organisations representing principals, the Australian Education Union, parent associations and other government and community organisations involved in the support of people with disability and their families.

During the reporting period, the DERG provided feedback and guidance on the following:

Excellence and Enterprise Stakeholder Forum

The Directorate established the Excellence and Enterprise Stakeholder Forum in 2011-12 to consult with the ACT community on projects and initiatives stemming from the Excellence and Enterprise framework. Membership of the Forum comprised of individuals and organisations with a connection, commitment and interest in the education of the young people in the ACT.

The Forum provided stakeholders with opportunities for their active participation and connection with projects and initiatives of the Excellence and Enterprise framework. The Forum met quarterly during 2011-12. The Directorate provided comprehensive information to the Forum and the broader community through the Quarterly Action Report and Key Directions Information Sheet on the implementation of projects and initiatives of the Excellence and Enterprise framework.

In 2011-12, the Forum provided feedback to the Excellence and Enterprise Steering Group on initiatives resulting from the Excellence and Enterprise framework, including submissions for the Secondary Schooling Innovation Fund.

Major community consultations

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultation

During the reporting period, the Directorate undertook the development of an updated Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and revised terms of reference for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Consultative Group.

The Directorate consulted with the RAP Working Group and parents and carers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to update the existing RAP. All participants (around 20) supported the revision and contributed to the updated RAP which builds on the work achieved during the implementation of the first RAP.

Four officers of the Directorate along with four members of the Group formed a consultative forum to review and revise terms of reference of the Group. The collaborative work resulted in the revised terms of reference and an updated website.

Consultation on engaging young people in education and training

The ACT Youth Commitment requires all agencies and providers to commit to ensure that all young people up to the age of 17 are engaged in education, training or employment.

The Directorate consulted with a wide range of stakeholders with 64 participants contributing to the development of the Re-engaging Youth Network Boards initiative. The initiative was launched on 28 May 2012 to engender a greater level of cooperation and collaboration across all providers and agencies in supporting young people who are disengaged, or at risk of disengaging, from education or training. One board has been established in each of the four school networks.

Membership of the boards is drawn from schools, government agencies, community organisations and youth service providers. Each board is chaired by a prominent member of the local business community.

Vocational education and training community consultation

The Directorate consulted with the community on VET options through quarterly VET Forums. The VET Forums provided opportunities for face-to-face engagement between Directorate staff and VET stakeholders in the ACT.

During the reporting period, four forums were held with approximately 100 participating stakeholders in attendance. Participants included representatives from registered training organisations, group training organisations, Australian Apprenticeship Centres and members of industry and training sector organisations. Topics at the forums included:

Schools capital works

During the reporting period, the Directorate continued stakeholder consultation on the design for a number of new schools, new capital works at existing schools and on the projects funded under the Australian Government's Building the Education Revolution (BER) program.

Table B1.1: Consultation on schools capital works


Consultation process


Number consulted


Harrison Secondary School

Regular meetings

Harrison School representatives

Numbers varied between meetings

Finalisation of secondary school design and completion of project

Bonner Primary School

Meetings and community consultations

Design Working Group (DWG), Gungahlin Community Council, Harrison School community

36 members invited to DWG, number of attendances varied for each meeting

Finalisation of design

Construction commenced on 30 January 2012 with proposed completion in February 2013

Franklin Early Childhood School

Meetings and community presentations

DWG, Gungahlin Community Council

Numbers varied between meetings

Finalisation of design

Construction commenced on 23 January 2012 with proposed completion in January 2013

Molonglo (Coombs) Primary School

Meetings and community presentations

Design User Group (DUG) comprising representatives of the Directorate and school principals, DWG

Numbers varied between meetings
There were three DUG and two DWG meetings held during the year

Design progressed to the Final Sketch Plan (FSP) stage with consultation on the FSP to be held

Canberra College - Performing Arts Centre

Meetings and school consultations

DWG, theatre consultants, school executive, specialist teachers, acoustic engineers

Varied depending on the issue or speciality

Project is in final stages of construction

Red Hill Primary School expansion

Meetings and school consultations

School principal and design consultants on the Red Hill Primary School works

French Australian Preschool (FAPS) representatives on the separation of facilities, local community consultation on traffic and parking study

Four Red Hill Primary School executive members on Red Hill extension, school informed the school community FAPS principal on separation works tasks, consultant advisor on land separation,  various groups on parking and traffic, including local services

Completion of separation of FAPS facilities
School expansion works in final stages of refurbishment and construction

Community consultation on traffic improvements, external to the school site

Majura Primary School expansion

Meetings and school consultations

DWG, school staff and members of school community

Numbers varied between meetings and presentations

Agreed and approved design options with school principal and school staff

Macgregor Primary School expansion

Meetings and school consultations

DWG, school staff and members of school community

Numbers varied between meetings and presentations

Agreed and approved design options with school principal and school staff

Duffy Primary School expansion

Initial meeting

School staff, school board and school community representatives

Five school staff, six members of school board and three Directorate staff

Commenced process for design works

Taylor Primary School – rectification works

Various community forums – 15 and 22 March and 22 and
23 May 2012

Members of the Taylor and Namadgi school communities and staff

A large number from both school communities and staff attended

Initial consultations on condition of Taylor Primary School

Further consultation with the Taylor Primary School community to occur during the design stage process

Preschool expansions (nine preschools)

Meetings and school consultations

DWG, school staff, preschool staff and preschool associations

Numbers varied between meetings and presentations

Design options agreed

Tender process for construction commenced for Griffith PreschoolWork at Red Hill Preschool completed

Deakin, Reid, Ainslie Baker Gardens, Hackett, Downer, Watson and Lyneham Preschools into final phase of design

Canberra College Cares (CCCares) Program

Meetings and DUG consultations

DUG comprising Canberra College and CCCares representatives, expert consultant from University of Canberra

Numbers varied between five to 12 participants

Finalisation of functional design brief, appointment of design consultant

Malkara School – hydrotherapy pool

DWG meetings

School board, school staff, hydrotherapy pool specialists, pool specialists and other hydrotherapy pool builders and owners

25 invited members

School expansion works are in final stages of refurbishment and construction

Trade Training Centre

Meetings and consultations with schools

DWG, consultations with school personnel, industry training experts, architects and training authorities


Final sketch plans being developed

Car Parks and Traffic Safety Program

Meetings and school consultations

School boards, P&C Associations, Roads ACT, traffic engineers and school administration officers


Three car parks to be developed, one out to tender for construction and two in design phase

Environment – Solar Schools:
19 schools in round one and 27 schools in round two

Meetings and school consultations

School staff

Varied between school sites

Introduction of project and contractors and confirmation of location of roof mounted solar panels and pulse meters

Installation of Artificial Grass Surfaces (five schools)

Meetings and school consultations

School principal and business manager at each school at each phase of the project leading up to tender out phase

Numbers varied between schools - two to eight school staff

Sign-off of installation of artificial grass and other artificial surfaces to specified areas within the school grounds and agreement to coordinate with construction works at all schools

Landscape improvements – pilot projects

Meetings, school consultations and community presentations

School principal and business manager at each school

Presentations to the school boards and P&C Associations at Giralang and Aranda Primary Schools

Varied between meetings and presentation session

Sign-off of design concept and agreement to coordinate with construction works at all schools

Landscape improvements – high schools (five schools)

Initial meetings to commence projects

School principal and business manager

Two staff members at each school

Introduction of project and initial discussions on school expectations and surveys to be conducted

Agreement and cooperation of five schools to improve landscapes

Ngunnawal Primary School - new classroom pod


School principal and executive staff

School provided information to school community and affected residents

Three school staff

Construction completed in
August 2011

Source: Schools Capital Works Branch

Major community partnerships

Community partnerships are important to the social and economic sustainability of the ACT. Partnerships help schools to respond effectively to the educational needs and opportunities of their communities.

The Directorate has a number of specific partnerships with ACT community groups who support public education. These include Capital Chemist Group, Country Women's Association, Paperchain Bookstore Manuka, National Australia Bank, Rotary Club, Binutti Construction Pty Ltd, Hawker Brownlow Education and Teachers Mutual Bank.

Capital Chemist Group awarded a scholarship of $500 to two students from each public high school for their demonstrated commitment to academic endeavour or citizenship during year 10 in 2011. The scholarship was given for continuing senior secondary education through a tertiary package or completing an apprenticeship.

Country Women's Association awarded grants of $350 to seven students commencing year 12 in 2012. The students (from public and non-government schools) were selected on the basis of their aptitude and commitment to completing their schooling in the face of challenges and hardships.

Paperchain Bookstore Manuka supported, through a contribution of $10,000, the 2011 Chief Minister's Reading Challenge. Prizes comprised book vouchers for winning and participating schools from public and non-government sectors. Paperchain Bookstore also supported the 2011 Year 10 Excellence Awards with a $5,000 contribution to the presentation event and $50 vouchers for each student award.

Box B1.1: Paperchain Year 10 Excellence Awards

Photo of five students receiving Paper Chain Awards for excellence in academic work and extracurricular activities including peer mentoring, sports, state and national competitions and charity work during their year 10 studies.

Paperchain Year 10 Excellence Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the High School Years were held on 5 December 2011. Awards were presented to students from ACT public high schools who excelled in academic work and extracurricular activities including peer mentoring, sports, state and national competitions and charity work.

The awards celebrated student growth as a learner, a person and a school and community member. The awards recognised the strength of students in ACT public schools and the excellence of the educators who work with them.

Paperchain Bookstore Manuka was the main sponsor of the awards.

Rotary Club of Canberra City (RCCC) manages and runs the Canberra Careers Market (CCM) every August. Through a memorandum of understanding, the Directorate assisted the RCCC with promoting, advertising and organising school visits to the CCM. In 2011, more than 7,000 students from the ACT and regional NSW visited the CCM held at the Australian Institute of Sport.

The ACT Training Excellence Awards is the premier VET community event in the ACT. The 2011 awards were held on 8 September to reward and recognise the outstanding achievements of apprentices, trainees, school students, employers, colleges, registered training organisations and industry within the VET sector. The Vikings Group continued its partnership with the Directorate by supporting the awards financially and through the provision of the venue and staff.

The Schools First program encourages best practice in school-community partnerships that demonstrate improved outcomes for students. Schools First is sponsored by the National Australia Bank along with the Foundation for Young Australians and the Australian Council for Educational Research. In 2011, four ACT public schools won awards for their ideas involving community partnerships.

Erindale College received a $50,000 Schools First Impact award for their Indigenous School-based Traineeship Program developed in partnership with the Indigenous community organisation, the Indigenous Social Inclusion Company. The program supported 17 students in 2011. All eight year 12 participants also completed their ACT Year 12 Certificate in 2011 and were employed or studying full-time in 2012.

The Schools First Seed Funding award worth $25,000 was shared between Lanyon High, Bonython Primary and Gordon Primary Schools for their 'Connecting through Giving' project in partnership with the Southern ACT Catchment Group (Kambah) and the University of Canberra. The partnership was developed to educate students from the schools about giving to the community, to the environment, to the school and to each other.

The ACT Refugee Day Committee presented scholarships of $250 to 13 students making good progress during their studies at the Directorate's Introductory English Centres or CIT. The scholarships were awarded to refugee students who were in need of financial assistance.

Binutti Construction Pty, Hawker Brownlow Education and Teachers Mutual Bank provided both financial and in-kind professional development opportunities to the 2012 Public Education Award winners.

Other community associations supporting public education include ACT Children's Week, the Returned & Services League of Australia Woden Valley Sub-Branch Incorporated, School Volunteer Program ACT Incorporated and the Australian Business Community Network.

The Directorate's Corporate Sponsorship policy provides guidance on corporate sponsorships, either cash or in-kind.

Social media

The Directorate continued to provide the community with updates on public school activities, programs and services through the ACT Public Schools Facebook page. Since the start of the page in mid-2009 the number of people who have nominated the Facebook page as part of their social network exceeded 600. A number of public schools used Facebook and Twitter social media sites to extend communication options with school communities. The Directorate's Twitter site followers numbered over 350 and the immediacy of the medium has proved useful in promoting school and Directorate events to specialist audiences including media.

For more information contact:
Information, Communications and Governance
(02) 6205 7661