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Tuesday, 24 February 1987
Page: 580

Mr MILTON —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education aware of the difficulties facing teachers in language centres advising recently arrived young refugees of their entitlements under the Austudy scheme? Has any provision been made for information and application forms on Austudy to be produced in different languages to assist teachers in language centres and secondary schools in informing student migrants of their entitlements under the scheme?

Mr KERIN —The Government is aware of the problems facing teachers and non-English speaking students and of the need to provide them with comprehensive information on Austudy benefits and entitlements in a form which is accessible to the students themselves. The Government also recognises the importance of providing the same detailed information directly to non-English speaking communities in their own languages through the ethnic press, and to the community advisers and service organisations most used by the ethnic communities, such as the Telephone Interpreter Service, migrant resource centres and adult English education centres.

The Government has taken steps to ensure that Austudy information is readily available to all who need it. Next week, each high school and technical and further education college principal in Australia will receive Austudy information translated into 13 languages, together with a State office contact number if more information is required. The 13 languages are: Italian, Spanish, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, Serbian, Croatian, Vietnamese, Polish, Khmer, Laotian and Macedonian. At the same time, this information will be distributed to Commonwealth Employment Service offices, youth access centres, Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs migrant resource centres, adult English education centres, Department of Social Security ethnic liaison officers, peak ethnic organisations, union organisations, Commonwealth Department of Education offices and the Telephone Interpreter Service.

Also beginning next week, ethnic newspapers will carry advertisements with complete information on the schemes and State office contact numbers for people who need further information. Each State and Territory office of the Commonwealth Department of Education will actively distribute information to local ethnic organisations. These offices have been developing their ethnic liaison activities over the past 12 months and many have conducted seminars and meetings to brief adviser groups on Austudy and other student assistance schemes. This initiative will be continued and expanded, where possible, during the coming year. An Austudy advertisement is also being prepared for community service screening on Special Broadcasting Service television. The advertisement will explain Austudy benefits and encourage members of ethnic communities to inquire about the scheme.