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Wednesday, 8 December 1993
Page: 4207

(Question No. 764)


Senator MacGibbon asked the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, upon notice, on 4 November 1993—

With reference to Regional Colloquial Language Training for officers:

  (1) What is the precise objective to be achieved by colloquial language training.

  (2) What academic standards are to be attained by those undertaking colloquial language training.

  (3) Is colloquial language training to be undertaken at the officer's own expense or at the expense of the department.

  (4) Will officers be refunded for the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) charges they will have to pay to the universities offering these language courses.

  (5) Is the HECS fee tax deductible for officers undertaking these language courses.

  (6) Will refunds for the HECS fee and the cost of the foregoing course be available under the Services Vocational Education and Training Scheme and Defence Force Assisted Study Scheme.

  (7) Will the language courses be undertaken in the officer's private hours or during duty hours.

  (8) Will officers with accepted colloquial language training receive promotion preference.


Senator Faulkner —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) The precise objective of the Army's Regional colloquial language training program is to produce an officer corps which has a sophisticated and in-depth understanding of the Asia-Pacific region.

  (2) Officers with language aptitude are to complete a minimum of 50 hours of formal language instruction, focusing on speaking and listening skills only.

  Officers without language aptitude are to complete a minimum of 50 hours of formal study in a Regional studies program dealing with the history, culture, religion, government, politics and society of countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

  (3) Colloquial language training is to be undertaken at the officer's own expense, except as prescribed in the answer to Question 4.

  (4) Officers who undertake colloquial language or regional studies as a unit of their university study, and where that study is sponsored by the Army through the Defence Force Assisted Study Scheme or Services Vocational Education Training Scheme, will be refunded HECS charges in accordance with the benefit of provisions of the scheme.

  The maximum benefit available under the Defence Force Assisted Study Scheme and Services Vocational Education Training Scheme is a 50 percent refund of HECS charges.

  (5) HECS fees are not tax deductible.

  Officers may claim costs associated with colloquial language training or regional studies as a self-education expense where those costs exceed $250.00.

  (6) The situation regarding the refund of HECS charges and the cost of the foregoing course is as detailed in the answer to Question 4.

  (7) Officers may undertake Regional colloquial language, or Regional studies for officers without language aptitude, training during duty hours, subject to the following provisions:

  (a) Officers must be given approval by their CO/OC to attend study courses during duty hours.

  (b) Subject to receiving their CO/OCs approval, officers may be given up to 50 hours off in duty time to meet their study requirements.

  (8) Officers successfully completing Regional colloquial language training, or Regional studies for officers without language aptitude, will be preferred for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.

  Officers without the qualification will still be considered for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel but will not be as competitive.