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Tuesday, 3 December 1985
Page: 2822

Senator MACKLIN(8.12) —This might be the appropriate stage to ask a question because it refers to the application of those criteria. I did inform the Minister's office that I would like to discuss an example of a school which has been denied funding to give the Minister an opportunity to detail more than has been detailed to date in the debate of how precisely a school might be denied funding when, on the surface, it certainly seems to be a reasonably acceptable case for funding. The school I notified the Minister about was a school in New South Wales called the Daystar School for Rudolf Steiner Education, a school which has been operating for two years. It is fully certificated by the Department of Education in New South Wales. It has 20 students going from kindergarten to classes 1 and 2 and it is looking at an increase in enrolments, probably to 25 or 30. This school is in an area where there is a demand for education following the Rudolf Steiner philosophy. There does appear on the surface at least to be reasonable growth in the local area. If one looks at the enrolments in public schools one will see that in the last four years there has been an average growth of 15 per cent. The Connors report on Planning and Funding Policies for New Non-government Schools mentioned that the figure of 2 per cent had been canvassed. That would seem to fit into that particular criterion. On the surface it would seem to be a school which ought to have received more favourable consideration than it did.

I would also be particularly interested in how the interim committee-the Minister might like to comment on that committee with its three non-government school representatives out of six committee members-collects the detailed information on the various criteria set out in these clauses. It is my understanding that this actual school was not visited. There does not seem to have been any visit to the region, at least not to the school's knowledge and not to the regional director's knowledge, by anyone from the Commonwealth Schools Commission within the last two years. How is the on-the-ground material assessed? By whom is it assessed to feed to the Schools Commission that which is fairly obviously information which has a large subjective factor? I think that is admitted in the Connors report. Although the criteria do have that objective air, there is still a subjective factor that has to be taken into account. Lastly, can the Minister tell us how a school which has been denied funding might be able to be included in the round for the following year rather than having to wait 24 months?