KIERAN GILBERT [HOST]: Let's go live to Rockhampton. Joining me is the Assistant Education Minister and Assistant Minister for Regional Development, Anthony Chisholm. Thanks for your time. A near miss for one town, dozens of homes lost already in fires across Queensland. It's been a tough start to the bushfire season.
ANTHONY CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: It has and it's still only 01 November as well, Kieran. It's really remarkable what happened yesterday in Wallangarra, we’re hearing the reports about that. So, my thoughts are with that community, and I really do urge people to follow the advice of authorities. But I also – my thoughts are also with those people impacted, but also those workers out there that are doing such a remarkable job. And there's thousands of them across the State. I've been in Townsville, Bundaberg and in Rockhampton already this week, and so many of these communities are feeling the impacts already. So, we do know that it is going to be a really tough bushfire season this year.
KIERAN GILBERT: The Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, already announcing some Federal Government support, so those that need it should look to those payments which are already flowing, as the Minister announced earlier this week. Let's turn now to this issue that you've been focusing on today, you and Jason Clare. A fresh funding round given to government schools and the opportunity for much-needed upgrades of infrastructure. It's something that will resonate, I think, with a lot of viewers right around the country as they go to schools and see the halls being run down. How widespread is this program?
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Yeah, so it's available across the whole country Kieran and we're working in conjunction with State Governments to ensure that the funding gets to those schools that are most in need. So, lower socioeconomic, those with a high percentage of First Nations students as well. And what we know, and I've seen this for myself from my travels around the country, is that there are a lot of ageing buildings within the schools. This is an opportunity to modernise. But also, what I've noticed that during COVID, a lot of schools have started to utilise outdoor spaces for learning and it's an ability for a school to get a grant of $250,000 to upgrade those sorts of facilities new and improved. But all it is about is about enhancing the opportunity for children and teachers to get better outcomes. So, it's a really good opportunity and I'm sure it'll be welcomed by schools right across the country.
KEIRAN GILBERT: COVID was a low point for so many people, but some initiatives and gains in industries, and one of them, as you just touched on, there this trend of teaching more outdoors. It makes sense.
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: It does and particularly it's hot and dry here in Rockhampton today, it's about 37. So, I can imagine that getting outdoors and in the shade in a nice, cool environment. And what we also have learned is that students learn in different ways, and this is about catering to ensure we get the best possible outcome for students. So, I know teachers are embracing it. I've seen students embracing it and this will just be a little bit of additional money that will help schools realise those ambitions to create better learning environments.
KIERAN GILBERT: I mentioned you are the Assistant Education Minister. Yesterday we spoke on the program about the program launched by the Prime Minister yesterday called Be That Teacher. If our viewers haven't caught up with some of the ads, I want to play one of them for you now. Have a look.
SPEAKER: Izzy has sacral agenesis where the lower part of her spine didn't develop. Her friends were going off to cross country and athletics and she couldn't be a part of that. I just remember saying, have you ever tried swimming? Before I knew it, I was screaming at the TV, watching her just blitz it through the pool in Tokyo at the Paralympics. She inspired so many around her. I'm going to need makeup now.
KIERAN GILBERT: Anthony Chisholm what sort of reaction has there been to the campaign? No doubt, communities where these teachers come from, very proud to see them part of it.
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Absolutely and I think that's about the 10th time I've heard that one, Kieran. I still get goose bumps from listening to it. It's really remarkable. I was actually with the Prime Minister in Bundaberg before he flew to join Jason to announce it, and he was really looking forward to it. And I know it's something that Minister Clare's been passionate about as well. And the stories that the teachers tell are phenomenal and it gets me thinking back to my days at school and how significant teachers were in my life when I was in education as well. But there's a serious part to this Kieran, and that's we need more teachers in the system, and this is about lifting the view of the profession across the country, but also, it's about encouraging people to go into teaching and that doesn't have to necessarily be young people. There's so many different pathways into teaching now and this is really hoping to encourage those people who are thinking about it to make that leap and go, “This is something I want to do”. And it'll be a great outcome for the country if we can get more teachers, and particularly across rural and regional Australia as well.
KIERAN GILBERT: Yep, there's no more important job, is there? Anthony Chisholm. Thanks. We'll talk to you soon. Appreciate it.
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Thanks, Kieran good to be with you.