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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 885


Dr THEOPHANOUS —My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. In view of the fact that there is a continuing need for English language classes for migrants, what action has the Minister taken to expand and to improve the adult migrant education program?


Mr WEST —This year, the Labor Government has allocated a record $43.7m to the adult migrant education program. A priority in 1984-85 is to allocate over $3m, in agreement with the States, to provide extra permanent teacher positions. Over the last two years, we have created or converted from casual 379 permanent positions. Of those positions, 201 were appointed last year and this financial year a further 178 will be appointed. It will be up to the State governments, through their departments of education, to make the appointments.

At the teaching centres, in conjunction with the classroom activity, we have introduced a child care service which, together with last year's allocation and this year's allocation, will cost more than $1m. This child care service has already been established, and more than 40 locations are in operation throughout Australia in co-operation with voluntary bodies and child care organisations. That service is being implemented following consultation with the Office of Child Care, State child welfare authorities and a number of other bodies with expertise in child care.

The Government has moved to increase the length of language courses in industry to 60 hours. In 1983-84, 4,400 migrant workers undertook a course in the English language at their work place through AMEP. We are advancing arrangements with the States to integrate the on-arrival and on-going phases of AMEP, to enable the more efficient use of resources by the States and to provide a better chance of continuity of study. Honourable members will be interested to learn that, nationally, 40 full time and 70 sessional bilingual information officers covering 25 community languages are currently engaged. We provide a survival English language course to meet the needs of those migrants who need to communicate in English about everyday matters. The number of students catered for by that arrangement has risen from only 3,050 in 1977-78 to 18,000 in 1983- 84.

A further innovation in this Budget in the adult migrant education program has been the provision of $280,000 to create four new self-access centres and an intensive language course. We therefore now have 29 self-access centres in the service nationally. These provisions-that is, the self-access centres-are innovations to enable migrants to study English at their own pace under teacher guidance at a convenient time to suit the individual. We shall very shortly be updating agreements with the States covering the operation of the adult migrant education program. I shall be signing each agreement with each State Minister for education to provide revised administrative and co-operative arrangements so that AMEP is further entrenched in the Commonwealth-State co-operation process under clear and mutually accepted guidelines.