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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3166

Mr Kerin asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 2 April 1 980:

(1)   Does his Department have an Indo-Chinese Refugee Contingency Program.

(2)   If so, (a) what are its features, (b) what amount of the funding is provided by the (i) Commonwealth and (ii) State Governments, (c) how many teachers have salaries funded by the program, (d) are (i) more schools being added to the program, (ii) more teachers being employed under it and (iti) additional funds being allocated to maintain conditions of staffing and (e) who administers the program.

Mr Fife -The answers to the honourable member's questions are as follows:

(   1 ) My Department administers a Contingency Program for Refugee Children. Although at the present time assistance is being given only to Indo-Chinese refugee children, refugee children from other countries are also eligible for assistance.

(2)   (a) Under the Program, Commonwealth funds are made available by my Department to government and nongovernment education authorities to help schools cope with the impact of numbers of refugee children at primary and secondary levels, who have recently arrived in Australia. The main purpose of the Program is to facilitate the children's English language acquisition so that they may be integrated as soon as possible into established migrant education and other programs of the school system. In accordance with the guidelines for the Program, funds are provided mainly for the salaries of specialist language teachers and teacher aides, but may also be used for other purposes such as excursions, transport of students and assistance with materials, equipment and in-service education activities. Assistance is also provided for items such as transport/re-erection/repair costs of demountable classrooms provided by school authorities.

Where necessary, refugee children may receive up to six months assistance under the Program. If they continue to need special language assistance after they move into established programs of the school system, it is expected that they will be assisted in programs funded from Schools Commission or other sources.

(b)   (i) In the 1978-79 financial year, approximately $ 1.87m was spent by the Commonwealth on this Program; in the current financial year, expenditure is expected to reach $2.58m.

(ii)   It is understood that most of the expenditure on special language programs for newly arrived refugee children is funded by the Commonwealth through the Program. However, it is possible that expenditure may be incurred by State and non-government education authorities. It should be noted that the funds made available by the Commonwealth under the Program are additional to,l and are not intended to replace, those provided by the Commonwealth through the Schools Commission for migrant education.

(c)   There are 143 teachers, co-ordinators, consultants and counsellors whose salaries are currently being funded. In addition, the salaries of 47 ancillary staff, including bilingual teacher aides, are funded.

(d)   (i), (ii) and (iii) Yes

(e)   My Department is responsible for the administration of the Program inco-operation with government and nongovernment education authorities.

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