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Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 999

(Question No. 967)

Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on 13 June 1984:

(1) Are a considerable number of Aboriginal assistant teacher positions in remote areas to be cancelled because of lack of support by the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, despite the fact that these positions were originally created to fill vacancies caused by Aboriginal people moving to teachers' training colleges, such as the one at Batchelor in the Northern Territory.

(2) Why is the Minister refusing to fund these positions in the future, despite the large amount of funding being allocated to less important Aboriginal areas and despite the fact that the Northern Territory supplies some $302,000 for operational expenses for this scheme.

(3) Will the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, who has in the past shown interest in this matter, prevail on the Government to ensure continued funding for this very necessary project.

Senator Ryan —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) My colleague the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon. A. C. Holding M. P., has advised that the forty positions in question, those of Aboriginal assistant teachers located in homeland centre schools, will continue to receive funding from the Commonwealth in 1984-85.

(2) Under the original agreement with the Northern Territory Government the Department of Aboriginal Affairs undertook to fund the positions for a three year period ending on 30 June 1984. The continuation of the funding arrangement therefore represents an extension of the period for which Commonwealth support had been originally negotiated. Commonwealth assistance will therefore be withdrawn on 30 June 1985, at which time it is expected that the Northern Territory Government will assume its clear responsibility to provide funds to allow the scheme to continue.

(3) I am anxious to ensure that appropriate educational resources and services are made available to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities in remote areas. It is however an area where the State and Northern Territory governments must assume the major responsibility to provide for the educational needs of their citizens.