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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3375

Senator ZAKHAROV —My question is addressed to the Minister for Education. What action is the Government taking to ensure that secondary students from needy families are encouraged and enabled to stay at school?

Senator RYAN —The Government has taken a wide range of actions to assist children from poorer families to stay at school. In particular, of course, we have rationalised and increased the secondary education allowances, now named Austudy. The results of those efforts have been very satisfactory. Since coming to power we have had a 100 per cent increase in the number of students receiving secondary allowances. For example, in 1983 52,789 students were on allowances under the secondary allowance scheme; we estimate that this will increase to 110,300 students in 1986-87. We certainly hope that all eligible students will become aware of Austudy and we have taken a number of steps to ensure that that is the case. We have consistently advertised the secondary allowance scheme and, in fact, I have been pleased to launch the national Austudy campaign, consisting of leaflets, posters, radio advertising, advertisements in youth magazines, including Countdown magazine, Smash Hits and the like; a campaign specifically targeted to rural Australia, which is very important; and the distribution of Austudy application forms through social security, education and community networks.

In addition to this, I have recently written to business leaders asking for their support in urging young people to stay at school until year 12, and I am pleased to report to the Senate that to date I have had a favourable response from these people, including just yesterday a phone call from the ANZ Banking Group Ltd informing me that it is only too willing to get behind the campaign to increase our retention rates. So I think there is a very satisfactory level of support in the community from employers and education agencies for the Government's increased participation rates measures, and I hope that all honourable senators, too, when visiting schools and education institutions will make sure that young people who are eligible have the information and know how to go about getting the allowances.