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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 6866

Ms KATE ELLIS (Adelaide) (10:11): As I know you are well aware, Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, the Adult Migrant English Program is the Australian government's largest program to assist settlement when people arrive in Australia. It is vitally important that we get it right and that we ensure that this critical support is operating as it should be. I know that my office has been contacted on several occasions now by people expressing deep concerns about the current operations of this program. I've been contacted by a number of teachers who have asked to remain confidential but have asked that the parliament hears the concerns about the program at the moment.

Teachers are saying that the Australian Core Skills Framework is in fact diverting the program from its core business of integrating English language learning with migrant settlement. If we don't address this, if these concerns are valid, then we will see the consequences of this for decades to come. One teacher told me: 'I feel seriously demoralised in my position. There is an overload of bewildering documentation, scores of forms to fill, assessment criteria and evidence. The depth and extent of details required by assessment go beyond what is adequate documentation about student proficiency and progress.' Another has said, 'It is extremely frustrating and counterintuitive to have to ignore many of students' real needs in order to meet the artificial ones that the new administrative regime demands. A huge part of our lessons are now by necessity just sessions to prepare students for specific assessments and then for carrying out those assessments. It's very narrowly focused, not allowing time and space for global learning and orientation.'

Emails are being sent—I'm sure to many members of the parliament about this issue—and they all seem to be raising the same concerns. Another has said to me: 'This is the first time I've ever contacted a member of parliament, and I sincerely hope that you will raise these concerns in parliament, that those responsible will make the necessary modifications to the contract so that, once again, we can provide a student-centred settlement and language service to our newly arrived migrant and refugee AMEP students.'

Take the concerns to the parliament I have. To all of the teachers who are concerned, I can assure you that we have raised this issue in Senate estimates. Senator Cameron has ensured that there have been questions placed on notice. I don't think this is a partisan issue, but what we're doing is asking the government to investigate these concerns so that, as a parliament, we can all be confident that this critically important program is operating the way that it should and that we're supporting the migrants who will be the future of this great nation.