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Monday, 19 September 1994
Page: 920


Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (5.41 p.m.) —I do not want to speak for very long in this debate on the Aboriginal Education (Supplementary Assistance) Amendment Bill 1994. I thank Senator Gibson and Senator Bell for their contributions. I understand that there was some criticism of the government's approach to the Mabo legislation but clearly we do not accept the opposition's view in that area.

  There are a couple of points on which I would like to conclude. Firstly, the government shares the opposition's concerns about progress in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. It agrees that the focus should be on outcomes rather than inputs. Information on the effectiveness of the government's programs and progress towards goals is expected to be available when the final report of the national review of education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is released in the near future. The cooperation of state and territory governments is vital if there is to be an effective national strategy on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education.

  Naturally, the states and the territories will need to provide much of the ongoing data that is required to measure progress in this area. In this regard, I draw the attention of the Senate to the speech made by the Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training, Mr Free, on 23 August where he placed particular emphasis on the role of state governments in this area. That role is particularly critical to the outcomes.

  Finally, the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs has established a working party to provide advice to ministers on the terms of reference and time frame of and the financial arrangements for a task force to develop a national strategy for the education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Commonwealth is hopeful of getting state and territory support for the establishment of this task force. In fact, the minister is very confident that this support will be forthcoming and that the task force will be established at the November meeting of the council. With those remarks, I thank honourable senators for their contributions to this debate.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.