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Wednesday, 20 May 1970

Mr Calwell (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to a statement by Mr D. J. 0'Hearn, the sub-dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne, following surveys made recently at the University of Melbourne, that (a) 1,000 of the University's 14,000 students were living on the poverty line, (b) between 200 and 300 of these students were nol getting enough to eat and were suffering from malnutrition, (c) some students were living in toolsbeds, curtained-ofT corridors and overcrowded slum houses in the Carlton-Parkville area and (d) students on the poverty line included both undergraduate and post-graduate students and that many of them were on Commonwealth scholarships.

(2)   If so, has be yet investigated the matter.

(3)   If his investigations have proved, or do prove, that these claims are correct, what action, either by the Commonwealth or by the Commonwealth and the State, may be expected to remedy ibc situation.

(4)   If similar conditions are found to exist in other Australian universities, will he lake remedial action.

(5)   ls it a primary function of his Department to work in co-operation with Slate governments, or alone, lo discover and remedy the intolerable conditions which are said to exist in the matter of incomes and living conditions in Australian universities.

(6)   Will he take steps to amend the scholarship scheme to provide sufficient additional assistance to the winners of these scholarships based on the needs of each individual student where such action is found necessary.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes. My attention has been drawn to a report in the Age of 4 April concerning a statement attributed to Mr O'Hearn.

(2)   Since then, at my request inquiries have been made with a view to obtaining a copy of lbc report from the University of Melbourne but officials of lbc University are not aware of 'he particular report mentioned. I note that the newspaper item says the report will be made in about a month'. 1.3) See (2).

(4)   See (2).

(5)   Yes. My Department continually reviews assistance available to Australian students in consultation with State Education Departments. Universities, College!) of Advanced Education and with the National Union of Australian University Students. This review is continuing and in addition to this a study is presently being undertaken to assess the needs of students and examine the appropriateness of meeting these needs by means of loans. This study will look at the pros and cons of loans and is without commitment.

(6)   See (5). Every attempt is made within the funds available to meet the needs of as many students as possible, and to assist wilh particular and individual problems. Payment of living allowance is made subject to the operation of a means tesl whereby scholars with greater needs receive higher allowances. The honourable member may rest assured that where we find students have particular needs we will attempt to meet them as we have done in the past.

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