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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 325

Senator ELSTOB —My question, which is directed to the Minister for Education, concerns recent media reports that the talents of Australia's intellectually gifted children are wasted and that insufficient attention is given to such children. Will the Minister respond to these comments? Does the Government have a particular policy regarding intellectually gifted children? Does the Minister agree that gifted children should be given special consideration in the educational process?

Senator RYAN —I believe that intellectually gifted children, like all Australian children, are being well served by committed and well qualified teachers in schools throughout Australia. As well as this general attention to the needs of those children, there is a special program run by the Commonwealth through the Commonwealth Schools Commission called the program for gifted and talented children. It has been running for a number of years-since 1979, in fact-and since 1982 approximately $100,000 has been set aside each year for projects involved with the education of gifted and talented children under the project of a national significance program. The amount of $109,000 has been made available for 1985. Some 27 projects have been supported under this element of the program.

Support has also been provided for a national seminar held in Melbourne in November 1981, a national seminar on curricula for gifted and talented children in Brisbane in May 1983, and a national conference held in Melbourne in August 1983. The advisory group for this program is at present focusing on the education of gifted and talented girls as well as the gifted in such special populations as Aboriginals, children from non-English speaking backgrounds, children from low socio-economic areas, children from isolated areas, and disabled children. I think Senator Elstob can be assured that the needs of these children, like the needs of all groups of Australian schoolchildren, are being properly addressed through Commonwealth programs.