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Tuesday, 27 March 1973
Page: 695

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon) - I would like to commend the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) for what he has said and for the acceptance of the report. This House ought to pay tribute to much of the pioneering work that was done by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) in the original efforts to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the problems of Aborigines.

Mr Beazley - Hear, hear!

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - I am grateful to the Minister for his recognition of that fact. The paper deals with one aspect of an extremely difficult and intricate problem which the Minister would realise will not be solved m one year, 5 years or 10 years - perhaps not in one or two generations. This matter involves not only schools and teachers but also social workers and a multi-sided approach to difficulties which are now part of the Minister's general and overall responsibilities. I recognise that it is proper that the Department of Education should have total responsibility for education in the Northern Territory. I am glad to see that that has come about, because having 2 systems of schools was not a sensible approach.

The discussion has centred to a significant extent on schools in the settlements where Aboriginal people are closer to their own past than they are in other areas such as Katherine, where there are schools with a significant

Aboriginal population of up to 40 per cent or 50 per cent of the total school population. They have many problems, perhaps different kinds of problems but ones which are equally intractable. At Katherine probably more has been done than at any other centre in the Northern Territory and perhaps more than in any other centre in Australia, to tackle these problems. A variety of people have worked under the general name of the Katherine project. I think it might be useful for this House if the Minister asks his officers to document what has been attempted, the successes that were achieved and the failures that resulted from some of the efforts in that area, not restricting the examination of the paper to what has occurred at Katherine but including other examples where special efforts have been made to solve some of the problems of education and of Aborigines in the wider community. If this document were available it would show that there have been many dedicated people in education departments and other Government departments, social workers and health officials who have been concerned with these matters.

Many lessons can be learned from the small successes that have been achieved and from the failures of different approaches. If this information could be collected in one paper it would be a useful guide for the future. It would also show that many people have thought seriously and compassionately about this problem for a number of years. I appreciate what the Minister has said and I support his remarks.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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