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Friday, 24 November 1978

Dr Everingham asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 17 August 1978:

(1)   What courses are available for Aboriginals (a) in schools run by Aboriginals, (b) in skills particularly in demand by Aboriginals including running repairs for vehicles, plumbing, electrical systems, household appliances and household management, first aid, hygiene, home nursing, elementary bookkeeping and commerce, (c) using traditional Aboriginal techniques rather than formal timetables, (d) in bilingual primary schooling and (e) using Aboriginal teachers.

(2)   How many Aboriginals have (a) commenced and (b) completed these courses.

(3)   How many of those who have completed these courses are (a) continuing studies or (b) in employment related to these studies.

(4)   What encouragement is given to (a) teachers to undertake specialised studies to improve their skills in teaching Aboriginals and (b) Aboriginals to become teachers.

(5)   Is the southern division of the Northern Territory teaching service lagging behind the northern division in bilingual teaching; if so, what is the reason and what action will be taken to remedy the position.

(6)   Is the teacher appointed to teach fringe camp children in Alice Springs, N.T. teaching in fringe camps; if not, what is the reason and what action will be taken to remedy the position.

(7)   What orientation and training is or will be given to teachers posted for the first time to teach Aboriginals.

(   8) What constraints or career penalties are applied to discourage registration or transfer applications by those who have found they are unsuited to teaching Aboriginals.

(9)   What will be done to remedy the position referred to in part (8).

(   10) What classroom construction has been undertaken in the Northern Territory in schools not needing them but which lack adequate toilet facilities and need outstation schooling which is not available in the area.

(11)   What has been done to remedy this misapplication of inadequate resources.

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

(1)   School level- (a) I know of only a small number of schools run by Aboriginals. The Townsville Black Community School and the schools at Strelley and Nookanbah in Western Australia are all controlled by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island groups. In most schools in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, which are my direct concern, Aboriginal teaching staff play a very significant part. The teaching programs in these schools are broadly similar to those offered m government schools in the States. Apart from these, schooling is now being provided at a number of socalled outstations, in the Northern Territory and in some of the States.

(b)   and (c) The very large majority of Aboriginal students in primary and secondary schools throughout Australia follow programs which are designed to cater for all pupils enrolled. The emphasis which can be given to the special needs of Aboriginal students varies from school to school. Where Aboriginal students comprise a significant part of the school population, it is more common for them to have specially planned teaching programs, and for students to be able to receive additional instruction in practical skills of the type listed. In all schools, emphasis is placed on the need for Aboriginal students to become as proficient as possible in the basic skills of literacy and numeracy as a necessary prerequisite for work and further study.

In Western Australia a number of project classes are operating at the upper primary and lower secondary levels. These classes aim to improve the practical skills of those students who have difficulty in succeeding with a more academically inclined curriculum. In the Northern Territory, schools at the larger Aboriginal communities have postprimary facilities where classes are conducted in a range of manual arts.

Since 1970 the movement to re-occupy traditional lands has intensified and Government support has now aided large numbers of Aboriginals to establish independent settlements known as outstations. My Department has responded to the movement by making provision for educational services at these centres. In many instances the teaching is carried out by Aboriginal teacher assistants who have the benefit of periodic visits by more experienced staff. The location of these outstation schools in traditional settings affords opportunities for pupils to learn traditional knowledge by traditional means. Tune-tabling is flexible to cope with the lifestyles at these centres.

In a number of other Northern Territory schools, timetables have been adjusted to suit the life-styles of Aboriginal people which are of course influenced by seasonal conditions.

(d)   An important innovation in Aboriginal education in recent years has been the introduction of bilingual programs. The bilingual program in the Northern Territory now involves 19 schools in Aboriginal communities. Twelve different Aboriginal languages are used along with English in formal programs. In addition a number of schools use the local Aboriginal language in an informal way. At Maningrida, for example, the large number of languages spoken precludes a formal program in any one of them, but it is possible for some of the older children to be introduced to literacy in their own language.

Bilingual programs with characteristics similar to those operating in the Northern Territory are now also operating in several Aboriginal communities in the States including the following: Kowanyama, Aurukun (Qld.), Ernabella, Fregon, Amata and indulkana (SA) and Warburton (WA).

As in the Northern Territory, the local language is used extensively in outstation education wherever this development occurs. Use of the local language on a less structured basis occurs in other communities particularly Yalata (SA), Yandeyarra, Oombulgurri and Strelley (WA).

(e)   The Government has actively encouraged the appointment of Aboriginals as teachers and teacher assistants in the Northern Territory. Twelve Aboriginals have now qualified for recognition as permanent teachers by the Commonwealth Teaching Service. A further nineteen have completed two years training to qualify for appointment of temporary teachers, and another group of 57 have completed part of their teacher training course. While the numbers are still not large, they represent a growing and significant involvement of the Aboriginal people in their education. The Roper River school is staffed by Aboriginals, including the first Aboriginal principal in the Northern Territory. In addition, some 300 teacher assistants are employed in Northern Territory schools. There are also some 400 Aboriginals employed in teaching positions in the States. Some SO of these are qualified teachers; the remainder hold positions as teacher assistants.

Post-school level- It is not possible to provide a complete listing of courses available in the practical skills outlined in the question. AU technical colleges offer courses at a variety of levels, and numbers of Aboriginal students are enrolled.

The Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme is a national scheme administered by my Department under which a wide range of special courses are arranged for Aboriginals who are no longer in a formal schooling situation. Many Aboriginal award holders undertake courses designed to improve their practical skills and employment prospects in the fields listed.

(2)   and (3) In 1977, a total of 2,451 Aboriginals undertook courses with assistance from the Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme. The large majority enrolled for courses directly related to practical and vocational skills. Of the 2,451 students, 1,067 were accommodated in courses specially arranged with the needs of Aboriginals in mind.

The Aboriginal employment situation is a serious matter, and is one which is receiving priority attention from the Government In the teaching field, as outlined above, there are substantial programs which are providing employment opportunities for large numbers of Aboriginals.

As part of an evaluation of the Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme, my Department is currently seeking information from students on the extent to which assisted programs of study have been useful in helping them secure related employment The results of the evaluation should help in assessing the types of courses which should be encouraged.

(4)   (a) Seven colleges of advanced education (Armidale, Canberra, Mt Gravatt, Mt Lawley, Newcastle, Townsville and Torrens) offer Aboriginal education studies in teacher training courses including studies at the graduate level. Mt Lawley CAE offers a Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Studies for external students. For Commonwealth Teaching Service Scholarship holders in their pre-service training, specialised Aboriginal education subjects are provided by several colleges cf advanced education. These scholarship holders also nave the opportunity to undertake a six weeks practice teaching period m Northern Territory schools during their course of study. In addition, in-service courses are conducted each year for teachers in Northern Territory Aboriginal schools. The Queensland Department of Education provides opportunities for teachers to take the Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Studies at Townsville CAE.

(b)   I have referred in my answer to 1 (e) above to the efforts made by the Government to encourage the employment of Aboriginals in teaching positions. As evidence of the continued effort being made to increase the numbers of qualified Aboriginal teachers, there were in 1977 1 16 Aboriginal students enrolled in teacher training courses, supported under the Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme. Since 1973, 39 Aboriginals have qualified as teachers with Scheme assistance, including four at the graduate level.

Teacher training programs for Aboriginals in the Northern Territory are conducted by my Department and the Darwin Community College. As mentioned in my reply to 1 (e), growing numbers of Aboriginals are qualifying as teachers.

(5)   No. Bilingual programs have been introduced to all Southern Region Aboriginal communities which satisfy certain criteria, one of which is a request from the community that such a program be commenced.

Currently five Government schools conduct a bilingual program in the southern region and it is hoped to expand the program to Santa Teresa school in the near future.

(6)   No teacher has been appointed specifically to teach in fringe camps at Alice Springs. I am not aware of a specific request for such a teacher. However, a teacher at Traeger Park Primary School does take one class for fringe camp children.

(7)   For teachers new to the Northern Territory a short orientation course is provided at the beginning of each year followed by another at the end of first term. Teachers already in the Territory and going to an Aboriginal school for the first time are encouraged to attend these courses also. Principals of Aboriginal schools are required to provide an orientation course relevant to their respective communities for new teachers at the beginning of each year. The effectiveness of these arrangements is being constantly monitored.

(8)   and (9) No constraints or career penalties are imposed.

(10)   and (11) My Department is not aware of any such situation. It is very conscious of the need for adequate toilet provision. Problems do occur as a result of maltreatment. In most outstation situations no permanent buildings are either provided or requested.

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