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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 106

Question No. 242

Dr Charlesworth asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 25 May 1983:

(1) Can the Minister say if a national committee was formed recently in Perth by the Independent Teachers Federation to sponsor the introduction of peace studies in Australian schools.

(2) Does the Minister support the inclusion of peace studies in school curricula; if so, (a) what is the Minister's assessment of the aims of peace studies in schools and (b) how will the content of a course of this kind be determined.

Mr Dawkins —The Minister for Education and Youth Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Yes.

(2) The Minister for Education in each State has the ultimate responsibility for decisions about what is included in the school curriculum.

However, I would advocate the inclusion in the curriculum of activities which would lead students to a more critical understanding of the global community, and the interplay of economic, political and military forces that have led nations into war. I would support studies which explore ways of settling differences other than by confrontation and armed conflict.

(a) and (b) It is difficult to make any general assessment of the aims of peace studies in schools, since these matters are decided individually by each school generally within broad guidelines laid down by education authorities. The content of courses related to the study of peace is decided in different ways, according to the policy and guidelines of the school and of the State in which it is located.

All States and Territories are aware of increasing interest in and support for Peace Studies. Education authorities claim there is provision within existing structures (basically within Social Science and Social Studies programs), for the introduction of the main themes embraced by Peace Studies, and that many of the issues are already incorporated in existing guidelines. As far as non- government schools are concerned a range of schools have Peace Studies programs. An outstanding example is the Australian International Independent School ( Sydney) which was established on a philosophy of non-violence. Peace Studies permeate the total curriculum of this school.

In the Australian Capital Territory, the Schools Authority and the United Nations Association of Australia in October 1982 organised an in-service course for teachers from government and non-government schools and interested members on the theme 'Education for Peace'. A committee was formed to promote peace education. One Australian Capital Territory school provides a course entitled ' Conflict and Crisis' as part of the Social Studies program and another has prepared a course in Peace Studies for accreditation. However, Peace Studies can also be treated as a theme in existing subjects by such means as an emphasis on co-operation rather than competition. In an Australian Capital Territory school the content of such a course would need to be approved by the school board and in the case of Year 11 and 12 courses be accredited by the Accrediting Agency.