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Wednesday, 28 March 1973
Page: 778

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (Minister for Education) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to give effect to a number of Government decisions to provide additional funds for the development of advanced education in Australia during the current triennium. Honourable members will recall that the Australian Commission on Advanced Education recommended, in its third report, that the Commonwealth should provide an unmatched grant of $5m for libraries in colleges of advanced education during the 1973-75 triennium. The late Government did not accept the recommendation. The present Government accepts the view of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education that present library resources are inadequate in colleges of advanced education, and it is therefore prepared to make available for college libraries the sum of $5m during the current triennium. No matching contribution will be required from the States in respect of this grant.

Present day living is becoming increasingly more complex and this complexity produces social problems, especially in urban communities, which demand the expertise of the professional social worker for their solution. Education is a field where social workers are needed. There is, at the present time in Australia, a severe shortage of trained social workers. To help overcome this shortage the Government is providing an unmatched grant of $40,000 in 1973 to enable the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education to establish a postgraduate course in social work to commence in 1974. This course will enable graduates in disciplines such as arts to become professionally qualified social workers. Additional finance will be provided in 1974 and 1975.

The Government has approved an allocation of $3m to universities and colleges of advanced education to enable them to provide financial assistance to needy students. Of the $3m, $806,000 is for students attending colleges of advanced education in the States. The amount of $29,000 has been allocated for the Canberra College of Advanced Education. The provision of these funds will enable students who are suffering financial hardship to receive assistance sufficient to enable them to continue their college courses. The Government decision to provide these funds was taken in the knowledge that tuition fees have risen significantly in many tertiary institutions. This assistance too is being provided entirely by this Government and no contribution is sought from the States. I would like to repeat what I said in connection with legislation assisting needy university students about the Government's hope in regard to the administration of the scheme. The assistance scheme is to be administered by the respective colleges of advanced education and assistance will be given in the form of grants or loans, depending on individual circumstances, and will be available to pay fees, living allowances and other approved educational expenses. It will be a matter for each college of advanced education to determine who shall receive assistance, but I would expect that the grants would be made available to students who are in extremely difficult financial circumstances following misfortune outside their control, such as death, injury, serious illness or desertion by bread-winners of families on ordinary incomes; the annihilation of family income in flood, drought or bushfire; seasonal or chronic unemployment of the bread-winner; loss of earning power by the bread-winner or any other reason; unreasonable refusal of financial support by parents; and to the children of age, invalid or widow pensioners.

The present Bill, together with other Bills on education listed for introduction during this autumn session of Parliament, underlines the importance which the Government and, I believe, the Parliament attach to the whole field of education, a view which Parliament knows is shared by the nation. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lynch) adjourned.

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