Question: Public Education Awards

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:14): My question is to the Minister for Education. Can the minister advise the house about the details of the 2018 Public Education Awards?

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (15:14): I am very pleased to advise that I can. I am sure members on both sides will be very interested in the 2018 Public Education Awards as significant, important awards as part of our education system. Last Tuesday, 1 May, I was very pleased to be in the member for Wright's electorate at the Surrey Downs R-7 School. Principal Russell Barwell was able to welcome me and the new 2018 Public Education Awards ambassador.

It is at this point I am very pleased to advise that this is just another example of how this government is taking steps forward because I would go as far as to say, without reflecting negatively on any of the previous ambassadors, this year this government has chosen the best ever ambassador for the Public Education Awards: Mr Eddie Betts, Adelaide Crows hero.

The former minister for education grimaces at me wishing that we had found a Port Adelaide player to do it this year, but Eddie Betts was our choice. We believe that, as a South Australian hero with a particular message about education, he is the right person to be the Public Education Awards ambassador. We are very grateful to Eddie Betts for taking on this important role.

This is not a partisan set of awards. This is a set of awards that has been underway for eight years. Out of the very small number of things I will commend the former government for, their establishment is indeed one of them, although, of course, there have been awards ceremonies in public schools for many years. In their eight years, we celebrate the outstanding contributions of everyone involved in the education department and in public education in South Australia. That can involve teachers, that can involve corporate staff, that can involve school staff, that can involve early childhood staff, and there are indeed categories of awards for all those people.

In the coming months, it is going to be a very important task for us to choose these awards, and we are asking members of the public to assist in that process. I encourage members of parliament to assist in that process. Nominations close on 31 May. Students, parents and members of the public can nominate. Members of parliament can, and there are details on the website of how members of parliament can. I particularly identify—and members may like to publicise these through their own social media or other channels—that there are going to be opportunities in shopping malls and public spaces in the weekends ahead. Winners for these categories receive $10,000, which they can put towards approved professional development, and runners-up receive $2,000.

This is just another part of how the Marshall Liberal government is supporting public education in South Australia because it is so critical that we get education right, that we recognise the significant achievements of all those who work so hard in our education system. This government does appreciate all those who work in public education and, indeed, in education across South Australia. What could be more important for our future than ensuring that our students get the best possible start in life? That's why the government will be rolling out its policies to improve education in South Australia. As part of that, we must express appreciation for the work that is being done, and the Public Education Awards are just one further way we can do that.