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Tuesday, 21 November 1978

Dr Everingham asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 14 September 1978:

(1)   What measures have been taken to remedy the educational handicaps of (a) migrant and (b) Aboriginal children as analysed in the final report of Australian Studies in School Performance- The Mastery of Literacy and Numeracy produced under the auspices of the Australian Council for Educational Research in April 1977 pursuant to the suggestion made to it in February 1975 by Mr Race Mathews, M.P., then Chairman of the Select Committee on Specific Learning Difficulties.

(2)   Have the views of the States been sought on the report. If so, when and with what result.

Mr Staley - The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   The report Australian Studies in School Performance- The Mastery of Literacy and Numeracy was the first attempt at establishing a level of performance in basic literacy and numeracy for Australian children. The results do not show that the present programs are ineffective; nor are the results particularly surprising. Education systems have been aware of the needs of migrants and Aboriginal children for a long time and as far as the States are concerned, the responsibility for the education of all children within them is vested with State Education Departments; it is thus their primary responsibility to consider and react to the findings of the report. Any assistance the Commonwealth provides in this area is supplementary to that offered by the States. There are, however, measures which have been and are being taken to assist migrant and Aboriginal children which relate to the findings of the report:

(a)   The Child Migrant Program began in 1970 and continued under various administrative arrangements until it became the responsibility of the Schools Commission in 1976. Since 1976 the Schools Commission, through its General Recurrent Grants Program has provided specific support for migrant and multicultural education. A recent addition to the general program has been the funds which will be made available to schools following the Government's acceptance of the Galbally report. $10m will be made available specifically for the teaching of English as a second language over three years. These measures will continue to provide assistance to meet the main problem area for migrants which was pointed out in the 'Literacy and Numeracy' Study- their limited exposure and opportunities to use the English language.

(b)   (i) Similarly, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs makes funds available to State Education authorities each year to enable extension and improvement of Aboriginal education activities, including the teaching of basic skills. The results of the ACER study were discussed at the annual meeting of the State Superintendents of Aboriginal Education held in Brisbane in June 1978. This meeting was also attended by representatives of the Commonwealth Departments of Education and Aboriginal Affairs. Reservations were expressed concerning some aspects of the ACER study. The consensus view of the State officers was that numeracy, literacy and oracy for all students has always been accorded high priority in schools. The general view also was that in regard to Aboriginal students the situation is improving. This, of course, could not have been revealed in the ACER study.

(ii)   In the Northern Territory there has been a particular emphasis on the second language approach to learning English to ease the transition for Aboriginal students to learn English. New reading material has been prepared, and additional staff have been appointed specifically to supervise the development of Aboriginal reading. Also the bilingual education program, which is operating in some 18 schools in the Northern Territory, is designed to enable Aboriginals to develop linguistic competence.

(2)   The findings of the study were available in the report of the Select Committee on Specific Learning Difficulties. The Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Mitchell, visited the States with Mr S. Dunn, Chairman of the Education Research Development Committee in mid 1977 and discussed the action that the States were taking in relation to the recommendations of the report. The States are taking steps to identify children with learning difficulties and to monitor standards within their own States. The Australian Education Council will also be examining strategies to adapt their systems to the needs of Aboriginals and migrants. 1978 Conference of Presiding Officers (Question No. 2077)

Dr Everingham asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 14 September 1978:

What were the (a) cost, (b) duration and (c) attendance figures of the 1978 Conference of Presiding Officers in Canberra.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I have received the following information from the Clerk of the House of Representatives:

(a)   At this stage, details of final cost are not known. However, it is expected that expenditure will be in the vicinity of $68,250;

(b)   The duration of the Conference, including arranged tours, was from 26 August to 6 September 1 978;

(c)   Attendance- 42 Presiding Officers; 36 Clerks and observers.

Twenty-nine of those attending were accompanied by their wives.

Public Servants on long term sick leave (Question No. 2444)

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 11 October 1978:

How many Second and Third Division officers of the public service were on long term sick leave as at (a) 31 December 1975, (b) 31 December 1976, (c) 31 December 1977 and (d) 30 September 1978.

Mr Viner -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Service-wide statistics for staff on long-term sick leave are not currently recorded on a divisional basis. Separate figures for the Second and Third Divisions are thus not available.

Full-time staff employed under the Public Service Act (excluding staff of the Departments of the Parliament) on longterm sick leave numbered (a) 769 at 31 December 1975, (b) 1 189 at 31 December 1976, (c) 151 1 at 31 December 1977 and (d) 1232 at 30 September 1978.

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