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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1413


Mr LYNCH (Flinders) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - by leave - The rural reconstruction employment training scheme is an integral element of the Government's policy for the reconstruction of rural industries. The intention of the scheme is to assist farmers whom I shall describe later to transfer to suitable alternative employment away from their farms. This explains the reference to the scheme by my colleague the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech as applying to 'farmers not in a position to achieve commercial viability'. The scheme is to be available to farmers affected in the whole range of agricultural and pastoral production industries.

The type of assistance that is available is the opportunity to undertake full-time or part-time training by entering formal courses in technical education, or through training by job experience in subsidised employment by approved employers. The applicant for training will be free to choose the vocational training he wants provided it can lead to immediate employment on completion. Thus the range of vocations covered by the scheme is wide, including technical, clerical and commercial fields. As I shall explain later, fees and other expenses associated with full-time courses will be paid and persons in full-time courses will receive a training allowance according to their ongoing income. Persons who enter into employment for training purposes will be paid the full award wage, part of which will be reimbursed to the employer by the Government.

In developing the scheme my Department has been in close consultation with the Department of Primary Industry. The States were also consulted during its development and have notified their concurrence. The scheme will be administered by my Department. I must emphasise the purpose of the training. It is to help farmers to prepare themselves for employment other than farming. The training they choose must be oriented to employment away from farming. Clearly the scheme is not a solution to all the problems of farmers whose properties are not economically viable, but it can assist people who decide to seek an alternative means of livelihood. This will not be an easy decision for them to make. Some farmers, for example, may have to resolve concurrently or beforehand very complex issues associated with physically relocating themselves and their families if there is to be an assurance of employment in the occupations for which training is sought. In this regard it is realistic to keep in mind the characteristic and understandable reluctance of the farmer to leave the land.

As honourable members will recall, the Commonwealth/ State rural reconstruction programmes provide for financial assistance for debt reconstruction or farm build up to farmers who, with that assistance, can become commercially, that is, economically, viable. Decisions on the economic vialibility of applicants for debt reconstruction assistance devolve on the appropriate authority in each State administering the rural reconstruction programmes. Fanners eligible to apply for assistance under this employment training scheme are those without prospects of long-term economic viability, that is, those who are refused or who are likely to be refused debt reconstruction assistance, and those whose properties are acquired under the farm buildup provisions of the State Grants (Rural Reconstruction) Act or the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Act. In all cases the farmers must have been in personal working occupations of their farms.

The scheme will also assist members of the family of an eligible farmer who have been working full-time on farming other than domestic responsibilities, and who have been primarily dependent on the income of the farm. Farm workers leaving the industry will also be eligible for training if they have been employed by eligible farmers for an uninterrupted period of at least one year immediately prior to their departure. The types of training to be provided and the principles for financial assistance are consistent with those adopted for the employment training scheme for persons displaced by technological change. Honourable members will, therefore, note the similarities in the two schemes as regards the nature of the training, the length of the training period for full-time courses and the amount of and eligibility for training allowances. There is a difference as regards the training period for part-time courses, 24 months as compared wilh 12 months, so as to permit some rural people to combine temporary employment with training while readjusting their affairs.

Farm workers who lose their employment through the introduction of technological change on the farm where they work can claim training benefits under the employment training scheme for persons displaced by technological change. Married and adult single women whose domestic responsibilities on the farm have restricted them from seeking job opportunities but who now desire to enter into employment can qualify for training under the employment training scheme for women restricted from employment by domestic responsibilities. It will be evident that the 3 employment training schemes mentioned are complementary to one another and in combination provide training benefits to a very wide range of people in the rural industries.

It bears repeating that this employment training scheme has been developed in the context of rural reconstruction programmes. It is not available to farmers who leave the industry for reasons which are not wholly attributable to their commercial non-viability as assessed by the appropriate State authorities or to the farm build-up provisions of the legislation referred to earlier. The approval of training as already indicated will have regard to employment opportunities in the particular occupations for which eligible applicants have stated a preference. Training is unlikely to be approved for occupations in which employment is very doubtful immediately on the completion of the training.

The scheme will aim to be as flexible as possible since the objective is to help people to find new employment. Whilst there is no age limit, age, personal capacity, educational background, may affect training preferences which persons can realistically pursue. To ensure the necessary flexibility the provisions of the scheme will be kept under continuous review, and change made from time to time as experience is gained with the types of employment and training that are being sought. The basic approach in the employment training schemes that have already been developed by my Department and that is implicit in this scheme is to seek the best match between the individual's training preferences, the likely employment opportunities at the end of training and the available training facilities. The counselling services of my Department will be available to potential applicantas for training who seek information about employment opportunities, training courses or the provisions of the employment training scheme most appropriate to their circumstances.

PRINCIPAL FEATURES OF SCHEME

Eligibility of Applicants

Farmers eligible for training are those who have been in personal working occupation of farms that are not economically viable to the extent that an application for debt reconstruction has been, or is likely to be, rejected by the appropriate State authority. In addition, eligibility extends to farmers who have been in personal working occupation of a property that has been or is being acquired by a purchaser who is assisted under the Government's farm build-up schemes. Both categories of farmers are described as 'eligible farmers' for the purpose of this employment training scheme. Members of the families of eligible farmers will also qualify for training if they have been working fulltime on farming, other than on domestic responsibilities, for at least the 6 months prior to their applications for training, and if they have been wholly dependent for their livelihood on the income earned by the farm. If the appropriate State authority assesses a farm as economically viable in terms of its capacity to support one farmer but not two, those obliged to leave the farm will also be eligible for training.

Farm workers who had been employed by eligible fanners for an uninterrupted period of at least one year immediately prior to their dismissal will also be able to apply for training assistance. Married women and adult single women members of the families of eligible farmers should, generally speaking, apply for training under the employment training scheme for women restricted from employment by domestic responsibilities. Farm workers displaced from their employment because of technological change on the farm where they worked should submit applications for training under the employment training scheme for persons displaced by technological change. My Department will inform inquirers of the appropriateness of each employment training scheme to their circumstances.

Selection for Training

The objective of training is to enable eligible persons to enter alternative suitable employment of their choice. Some will, of course, be able to obtain employment in their chosen fields without the Deed for further training. The Commonwealth Employment Service will provide assistance in appropriate cases to facilitate an immediate transfer into available employment. When an application for training is being considered, an applicant's ability to complete the proposed training, and his readiness to take up the first training opportunity available in his preferred field, will be taken into account. The training must be such as to assure him employment which is suitable to him. The Commonwealth Employment Service, with which all applicants for training must register for employment, will assist those completing training to find employment.

Nature of Training

Training is offered in three basic forms. First, there are existing formal courses at approved technical schools or vocational training institutions, either full time, part time or by correspondence. Second, on the job training will be arranged with approved employers. Third, training may be arranged as a combination of on the job training and a formal course where such is available.

Approval of Institutions and Employers as Trainers

The reference to an approved training institution or approved employer means an institution or employer nominated by the potential trainee as his desired trainer. The scheme will be flexible, but institutions and employers will be approved separately for each trainee. They will not be classified as 'approved' in general. In the course of discussion with the potential trainee or as a result of investigating a training application, the Department might recommend to the applicant a change of nomination. Institutions and employers cannot gain recognition as 'approved' on their own initiative and hence will not be in a position to use the scheme, or to obtain any payments under the scheme, for training and costs which ordinarily would have incurred as part of their normal recruitment and training arrangements for new entrants or new staff. Approval will only be given to nongovernment training institutions where a suitable programme of training is not available from a government institution.

Length of Training

The period of training available is for 12 months full time or 24 months part time. Shorter periods will be approved, but longer training up to a maximum of a further 12 months will require consideration by a broadly based advisory committee before approval. Where entry to a training programme depends on additional educational qualifications, applications for the tuition necessary to acquire the prerequisite education will be considered up to a maximum period of 12 months prior to commencement of the approved training programme. The extra tuition will be additional to the maximum period approved for the actual training.

FINANCIAL BENEFITS

Responsibility for Training Costs

The costs of fees for existing courses in State government training institutions will be met by the trainee's State government.

The costs of fees for courses in other institutions will be borne by the Commonwealth Government. Regardless of the training institution, all other costs, including training allowances, will be the responsbility of the Commonwealth.

Formal Course Training

Trainees in full time courses of study at an approved technical or vocational institution will receive a training allowance of $46.20 a week. Trainees who are minors will receive a percentage of this allowance calculated on a sliding scale according to age. The allowance will be subject to an income test, as follows: If a trainee receives, in the period during which the allowance is payable, income from employment other than vacation employment, or from investments other than savings bank deposits, the amount of the training allowances payable each week will be reduced by the weekly equivalent of that income. The income of the spouse is taken into account. As in other employment training schemes, fees will be paid in full for formal courses at approved technical or vocational training institutions, and costs will be met for examinations and evidence of qualifications. There will be a maximum allowance for essential books and equipment of $80 and fares to and from the training institution will be paid. These provisions for fees, book and equipment allowances and fares apply to all courses, whether full time, part time or by correspondence. In addition to the training allowance there will be an extra contribution of $10 a week for married trainees who may have to live away from home while undertaking full time training courses not available at a local training institution. This is intended as a contribution towards expenses and is not expected to meet actual living costs.

On-the-job Training

When in-plant or on the job training is arranged, a wage subsidy will be payable on a sliding scale to employers or principles incorporated in existing employment training schemes. The wage subsidy provides for reimbursement to approved employers only, and is calculated as a proportion of the award wage for age and job classification in respect of each trainee.

The subsidy will be payable only to employers providing training at the trainee's request through the Department of Labour and National Service and in accordance with a previously approved time schedule. During training the employer will be required to pay trainees at least the appropriate award wage.

APPLICATIONS AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCHEME

The scheme will be operative from 1st October next. Application forms for training and leaflets describing the details of the scheme will be available from any office of the Commonwealth Employment Service, from offices of the State rural reconstruction authorities, shire officers, farmers organisations and relevant trade unions. Persons wishing to apply for training under the scheme may obtain information from my Department on training facilities available and on procedures for applying for training under the scheme. The employment training scheme, as is the whole rural reconstruction programme, is a co-operative Commonwealth-State undertaking. It takes into account the special needs of farmers who may be obliged physically to relocate themselves and their families before being able to consider training for alternative employment, and recognises that training will play an essential, though necessarily limited part, in helping farmers to adopt to a fundamental change in their way of living. The finer details of the scheme are set out in the appended statement - Rural Reconstruction Employment Training Scheme - which I am pleased to present. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate that statement in Hansard.

RURAL RECONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT TRAINING SCHEME

Purpose

To assist eligible farmers to transfer to alternative suitable employment away from their farms. The Scheme will become operative from 1st October 1971.

Definition

(2)   'Alternative suitable employment' means employment in an occupation for which the affected person has stated a preference, other than a fanning occupation, which he regards as suitable, and which he and the Commonwealth Employment Service agree is available within reasonable distance of his chosen place of residence.

Eligible Farmers

(3)   .A fanner is eligible to apply for training if his farm has either been acquired under the Government's farm build-up programmes or is not economically viable to the extent that an application for debt reconstruction assistance to the State authority administering the rural reconstruction programme has been or is likely to be refused, and who decides to work away from his farm. Such a farmer will have owned his farm or have leased it from the Crown or have worked it as a share farmer. Alternatively, the farm may be held by a trust of which the farmer is a beneficiary or by a partnership of which the farmer is one, or by a company of which he is a shareholder. In all cases the farmer must have been in personal working occupation of his farm.

(4)   Members of the family of an eligible farmer can apply for training if they have been working full-time on farming other than in a domestic capacity for at least the 6 months prior to their application for training, and, as a consequence, have been primarily dependent for their livelihood on the income earned by the farm.

(5)   Farm workers are eligible for training if they have been employed by eligible farmers for an uninterrupted period of at least one year immediately prior to their dismissal.

Selection for Training

(6)   The objective of the training is to help eligible persons to obtain alternative suitable employment away from their farms. Some may be able to take up employment in their chosen fields without the need for further ' training, and they will be assisted by the Commonwealth Employment Service. The considerations taken into account when selecting applications for approval are:

(a)   Is the proposed training course of a type which will, on completion, lead to alternative suitable employment away from farming?

(b)   Can the proposed training course be completed within the time allowed?

(c)   Is the applicant ready to commence the first available course or programme of training in his preferred occuption, and to commence employment immediately after training?

(d)   Does the applicant have the aptitude' and ability to complete the training proposed?

(e)   Is the applicant registered for alternative suitable employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service?

Nature of Training

(7)   Training may take the form of an existing formal course at an approved technical school or vocational training institution, either full-time, part-time or by correspondence, or on-the-job training with an approved employer, or a combination of on-the-job training and a formal course where such is available.

Length of Training Period

(8)   Training programmes approved should be capable of completion within 12 months for fulltime courses or on-the-job training, or within 24 months for part-time or correspondence courses.

(9)   Training in individual cases for a longer period, up to a maximum of a further 12 months, either full-time or part-time or by correspondence, is subject to approval by the Minister for Labour and National Service or his Delegate advised by the Advisory Committee keeping the scope and provisions of the Scheme under review.

(10)   Where entry to a training programme depends on additional educational qualifications, tuition necessary to acquire the additional education may be considered up to a maximum of 12 months prior to commencement of the approved training programme.

Financial Assistance

The costs of fees for existing courses in State Government training institutions will be met by the trainee's State Government. The costs of fees for courses in other institutions will be borne by the Commonwealth Government. Regardless of the training institution, all other costs, including training allowances, will be the responsibility of the Commonwealth. 11. (a) While undertaking an approved full-time training course at an approved training institution and not available for placement in employment -

(i)   For adults, a weekly training allowance of $46.20; for trainees who are minors, an allowance calculated on the following scale:

 

All training allowances are subject to an income test.*;

(ii)   Payment of all necessary tuition fees and examination and certificate fees;

(iii)   'Reimbursement of local fares incurred travelling to and from the place of training;

(iv)   An allowance for essential books and equipment to a maximum of $80 in total;

(v)   In addition to (i) a contribution of $10 a week towards expenses for a married person when full-time training is undertaken in a school located in a town other than that in which the trainee normally resides.

(b)   While undertaking an approved part-time training (including correspondence) course at an approved training institution and also in employment -

(i)   The payment of all necessary tuition fees and examination and certificate fees;

(ii)   Reimbursement of local fares incurred travelling to and from the place of training;

(iii)   An allowance for essential books and equipment up to a maximum of $80 in total.

(c)   Employers who are providing on-the-job training at the request of the Department of Labour and National Service, and in accordance with a previously approved time schedule, will be reimbursed a proportion of the appropriate weekly award wage as follows - 1st 3 months of training - 30 per cent of award rate of pay 2nd 3 months of training - 25 per cent of award rate ofpay 3rd 3 months of training- 20 per cent of award rate of pay 4th 3 months of training - 10 per cent of award rate of pay

12.   Trainees in on-the-job training with an approved employer must be paid not less than the award rate, for age and job classification, by that employer.

Applications for Training

13.   Applications by post should be addressed to the Regional Director or Officer-in-Charge of the Department in any capital city or may be lodged with any District Employment Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service. Application by farmers or members of their families should be made within 12 months of the date on which the State rural reconstruction authority's assessment of non-viability was made, or within 12 months of the date on which a property was acquired for farm build-up purposes. Farm workers should apply within 12 months of the date of termination of their employment by eligible farmers.

14.   Application forms are available from the State rural reconstruction authorities' offices. Shire Offices, officers of farmers' organisations, relevant trade unions, and from any District Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service.

* If a trainee receives, in the period during which the allowance is payable, income from employment other than vacation employment, or from investments other than savings bank deposits, the amount of the training allowance payable each week will be reduced by the weekly equivalnt of that income. The income of the spouse is taken into account.

Date of Effect

15.   Training benefits will be payable from the date of application for training or from the date of commencement of training, whichever is the later.

Advisory Committee

16.   An Advisory Committee to keep the scope and provisions of the Scheme under review includes representatives of the State reconstruction authorities and the Department of Primary Industry.

I present the following paper:

Rural Reconstruction Employment Training Scheme - Ministerial statement, 16th September 1971.

Motion (by Mr Peacock) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.







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