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Friday, 9 December 1983
Page: 3586

Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(10.40) —I query very briefly the question of the determination of what schools are the needy schools and what schools are not. As I understand it-I think I am at one with the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs (Senator Ryan) in this-we are looking primarily at the question of children at risk; that is, children who for whatever reason are finding schooling and the school journey not meaningful and not fruitful and who , therefore, are early dropouts or unskilled. I suggest to the Minister that there is no necessary correlation between the particular resources of a school and the percentage of students at risk. For example, in my State quite commonly these days one will find at some of the schools with considerable resources, even in affluent areas, that as many as 35, 36 or 37 per cent of children are from single parent families. This state of affairs presents an enormous problem to the teachers and the school and bears no relation at all to the sub-economic or sociological stratum of the area concerned. In order to face this problem we will have not simply to look at some kind of category 1, category 2 or category 3 situations; we will have to look at an enormous sociological and psychological problem that cannot be measured by such a scale. I rise simply to ask the Minister to assure us that in any discussion with the States the key will be children at risk, whether they be in government schools or non-government schools, in affluent or disadvantaged areas.