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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator GORTON - The Acting Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator's question -

1.   Since 1961, the Department has had an annual language training programme which is designed to encourage officers and staff at all levels in the Department, and wives where appropriate, to increase their knowledge of foreign languages. The nature of the training ranges from full-time courses lasting for as long as three years - Chinese and Japanese - to part-time tuition for an hour or two a week. Training takes place in Australia and overseas. During 1965 officers will undergo full-time courses of varying duration in Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Russian, French, Spanish. Thai, and Vietnamese. At the present time some 100 officers and wives are undertaking parttime study in the following languages: French (27), German (6), Russian (8), Thai (3), Italian (5), Arabic (2), Portuguese (1), Indonesian/Malay (11), Chinese (2), Spanish (17), Hindi (I), Japanese (15) and Swedish (2). Direct incentives include the payment of language proficiency allowances for officers qualifying at standards prescribed by the Public Service Board and the provision of time off for study in cases where tuition is not being undertaken full-time. Where full-time study is being undertaken, the Department meets all tuition costs, the officer continues to receive his salary and, in addition, where officers are studying overseas, the cost of living and other allowances payable to Australia-based officers stationed in the particular country. Arrangements are also made, where possible, for officers to undergo intensive refresher courses from time to time. Officers are also encouraged to undertake part-time language courses at official expense in Canberra and overseas even though there may be no obvious immediate need for them to use the language being studied.

2.   The number of officers in the External Affairs service with some degree of proficiency, other than elementary, in the languages mentioned, is as follows -


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