Kurrajong Candidates who will put education first

In Kurrajong, Shane Rattenbury, Josh Ceramidas, Leah Dwyer, Richard Niven and Rachel Stephen-Smith are committed to putting public education first. Shane Rattenbury from the Greens is the only candidate in Kurrajong to sign our pledge on education.



Shane_Rattenbury.PNGShane Rattenbury - Grees Sitting Member

Being Minister for Education this year has given me a unique insight into the valuable and productive work that Canberra’s public school students, school assistants, teachers and principals are doing every day. I have visited many schools since January and have seen first-hand the incredible commitment that teachers and other staff have to each and every student.

However, this year has also opened my eyes to some of the challenges that we are facing in our public schools - including the challenges of ageing infrastructure and the impact of our growing population on some of our schools. We face the challenge of ensuring our schools are as inclusive as they are diverse, and that every student feels supported and able to participate and succeed at school and beyond.

The ACT Greens are committed to ensuring that the needs of students are front and centre of our education system, and that teachers and principals are supported to deliver the best quality education and learning environment possible.

The ACT Greens have put forward a comprehensive agenda for improving educational outcomes for Canberra’s students at this election including $50m additional funding for infrastructure, $4m for extra mental health support for students in the community sector, and $4.4m to fund extra support for teachers and students in the classroom, and improve our capacity to meet the needs of all of our students.


Josh_Ceramidas.PNGJosh Ceramidas - ACT Labor Candidate

Education truly is the great equaliser. It takes people from any background and circumstance and sets them on a path to a fulfilling life. This power to change lives means that we must not only respect the vital work of teachers, but we should hold them in the highest regard.

My mum is a teacher. I grew up watching her spend countless hours of her time at home preparing – sometimes I’d help feed stacks of the sound cards she was making by hand through a laminator. I’ve witnessed the same dedication from just about every teacher I’ve met, be they friends, house-mates or colleagues on the public school boards I’ve been a part of.

So my commitment to you is this: I’ll work to ensure that you have secure jobs, fair pay and conditions, and the funding and resources that you need to help students reach their best. You need time to prepare and plan, continue your professional learning and focus on the thing you do best – teaching. But I also know that supporting teachers goes beyond the classroom. You need the support of a team of other professionals, like psychologists and social workers, working in school communities.

I will always put public education first, because providing education, both academic and vocational, should only ever be about imparting knowledge and enriching lives. It is a public good that should be publicly owned and publicly delivered.


Leah_Dwyer.PNGLeah Dwyer - ACT Labor Candidate

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself to members of the Australian Education Union.

I am working hard in Kurrajong to ensure Canberra Labor is returned to Government in the ACT. Only Labor can deliver for our city and ensure that vital public services and institutions are thriving.

I recently completed my Masters of International Relations at the ANU and I live in Hackett with my young daughter and our dog Lucy.

I moved to Canberra in 2008 from Brisbane where I studied undergraduate degrees in biochemistry, languages and international politics. I am currently employed as a policy and research analyst at the Department of Employment and I have previously worked in the Canberra not-for-profit sector as well as in aged care and the labour movement.

My background in science means I am passionate about a smarter Canberra and I am keen to see more opportunities for young Canberrans in STEM. That’s why I am excited by ACT Labor’s commitment to delivering STEM scholarships for ACT teachers and upgrading sciences and technology facilities in local public high schools and colleges. A well funded, inclusive and quality public education system is vital. It is critical to building the future of Canberra, and ensuring students are equipped for the labour market of the future.

I am working hard in Kurrajong to ensure Canberra Labor is returned to Government in the ACT. Only Labor can deliver for our city and ensure that vital public services and institutions are thriving.


Richard_Niven.PNGRichard Niven - ACT Labor Candidate

I am one of the Labor candidates for the seat of Kurrajong and have a strong commitment to high quality public education. I am married with three children and have a long association with the public school system. As well as going through the Victorian system myself, my parents and three siblings also attended public schools. Both my parents were teachers, so I have a strong appreciation of all the work that is done outside contact hours. 

One of my three daughters has completed school while two are still on their way through. I was President of the Lyneham High School P&C for a couple of years and with two daughters still at the school, I try to get to meetings when I can. Until last year I had also spent 14 years helping out at the Ainslie Fete.

In my involvement with ACT schools over the last 15 years I have seen a significant improvement in infrastructure and organisation. I know that there is still much to do, but I firmly believe that ACT Labor is the best party for providing real support for Canberra’s public schools, and their students and teachers.


Rachel_Stephen-Smith.PNGRachel Stephen-Smith - ACT Labor Candidate

I grew up in Canberra and went to great public schools in the inner north. I know how lucky I am to have been educated in Australia’s best school system, and I’ve always been a strong believer in public education. One of my first independent political acts as a high school student was to write to the Canberra Times about the importance of public schools. I can’t remember what the threat was, but I vividly recall my outrage at any attack on our public school system!

Great public schools, vocational education and universities are critical to ensuring that everyone can have access to an excellent education, regardless of their background. But public schools, in particular, are more than that. Public schools are a force for good in the community. They bring people together and build tolerance and understanding, whether that’s in relation to creating a strong multicultural society, fostering the inclusion of people with a disability, or simply ensuring children understand that people have different lives, experiences and perspectives.

If I’m elected to the Assembly, I’ll always argue for well-funded schools and a strong vocational education system that meets the diverse needs of Canberra’s students – from children through to mature age learners.



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