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Wednesday, 20 August 1980
Page: 503


Mr FIFE (Farrer) (Minister for Education) - by leave - Total Commonwealth expenditure

 

on education will grow by 10 per cent in 1980-81. In absolute terms, an additional $260m will be spent, bringing the total to $2, 867m. Major elements in this increase are: Schools, up by SI 12m; universities, colleges, and technical and further education, up by $125m; and student assistance up by $ 19m.

COMMISSION PROGRAMS

The reports of both education commissions recommending the detailed distribution of funds for the 1 98 1 calendar year have just been received and will be released publicly tomorrow. The Government will consider the commission's recommendations and announce its decisions on them during the Budget session. In the meantime, overall funding in accordance with the guidelines previously given to the commissions is provided for in the Budget.

STUDENT ASSISTANCE

The Government has given careful consideration to the needs of students and their parents in deciding on increases in allowances and adjustments of means tests for each of the student assistance schemes. Major allowances under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme and the Secondary Allowances Scheme are to be increased by 20 per cent. Living allowances under the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme and other schemes will rise by 10 per cent. The means tests will also be adjusted. These changes will take effect from the beginning of 1981. They will cost an additional $ 19m in 1980-81 and $38m in a full year. Total expenditure on student assistance during 1980-81 is expected to be $229.7m. Full details of the changes in allowances and means tests are provided in the attached tables, and I seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The tables read as follows -

 

 


Mr Fife - I thank the House.

Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (TEAS)

As evidence of the Government's commitment to providing assistance for tertiary students on the basis of need, and bearing in mind the increases in costs incurred by parents who contribute to the support of their children during tertiary study, it has been decided to increase living allowances for 1981 and to adjust the means test in line with movements in average incomes. The maximum living-at-home allowance will rise from $29.29 to $32.21 a week for 1981, while the awayfromhome and independent rates will increase from $45.15 to $49.67 a week. The allowance for a dependent spouse will be increased from $31.40 to $42.70 a week, and for each dependent child from $7.50 to $10 a week.

The level of family income, after deductions for dependants and other allowable items, at which maximum benefits will be payable will be increased from $9,400 to $10,312. From 1981, students will be able to earn $2,000 before the allowance is affected, including up to an amount of $500 from another award. The previous limits were $1,500 and $150 respectively. These increases will cost $ 10.8m in 1980-81 and $24m in a full year. About 89,000 students are expected to be assisted under TEAS in 1 98 1 .

Adult Secondary Education Assistance Scheme (ASEAS)

The Adult Secondary Education Assistance Scheme assists mature students to undertake the final year of secondary study. The increases in allowances and adjustments to the means test applicable to TEAS for 1981 will also be extended to cover ASEAS. These increases will cost $0.3m in 1980-81 and $0.6m for the 1981 year. About 1,950 students are expected to receive ASEAS assistance in 1981.

Postgraduate Awards

The stipend and dependants' allowance under postgraduate awards will also be increased for 1981. The stipend will be increased from $4,200 for 1980 to $4,620 for 1981 , while the allowances for dependants will be increased in line with the increase under TEAS. The Government has taken note of the recommendation of the Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training - the Williams Committee - that the number of new postgraduate awards made available each year should be increased. Eight hundred new awards will be provided for 1981 compared with the 700 for 1 980. The increase will enable an additional 80 research awards, 15 course awards and 5 advanced education institution awards to be provided. The cost of increased allowances and the additional awards will be $0.7m for 1980-81. About 2,000 postgraduate award holders will receive assistance in 1 98 1 .

Aboriginal Schemes

The Aboriginal Study Grants Scheme (Abstudy) and the Aboriginal Secondary Grants Scheme (Abseg) have done much to improve the educational opportunities amongst the Aboriginal people. Under Abseg, living at home and boarding allowances will be increased for 1981 by 10 per cent, whilst the books and clothing allowance will be raised by 20 per cent. Similarly, the living allowances payable under Abstudy have been increased by 10 per cent and dependants' allowances will be raised, as for TEAS. These increases will cost $1.0m for Abseg and $0.5m for Abstudy in 1980-81. Some 16,500 students are expected to benefit under Abseg in 1981 and about 10,000 under Abstudy.

Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC)

The Government is mindful of the problems of families whose homes are remote from norma) school facilities. The costs such families must meet in boarding their children away from home have increased significantly in recent years. The major boarding allowances payable under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme have each been increased by $100 from $500 to $600 per annum. The special supplementary allowance will from the beginning of 1981 have a maximum value of $360 per annum for primary students, $540 per annum for junior secondary students and of $660 per annum for senior secondary students. The means tests on both the additional boarding allowance and the special supplementary allowance will be adjusted, with maximum benefits being payable at adjusted family income levels of $10,312 and $7,440 respectively compared with the present levels of $9,400 and $6,200. The Government has also decided that second home allowances payable under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme should be increased; for example, where there are three children in the family the basic allowance will be $1,530 per annum as against the present rate of $1,275 per annum. The correspondence allowance all also be restructured and the short term boarding allowance increased. The provisions of the Scheme have also been widened so that they cover all categories of handicapped children as well as those who are obliged to live away from home for medical reasons. The additional cost of these measures for the AIC scheme will be $2m in 1980-81. Approximately 20,500 students are expected to be assisted under the AIC scheme during the 1981 calendar year.

Secondary Allowances Scheme (SAS)

The Secondary Allowances Scheme provides support for families with limited financial resources to assist them to maintain student children enrolled in the final two years of secondary education. It has been decided that the maximum benefits payable under this Scheme should be increased by 20 per cent to an amount of $660 per annum. The means test will also be liberalised by 20 per cent. Maximum benefits will thus be payable at an adjusted family income of $7,440 per annum. The additional cost of these measures for 1980-81 will be $3.5m. Some 25,000 students will receive assistance under SAS in 1 98 1 .

TRANSITION FROM SCHOOL TO WORK PROGRAM

The Transition from School to Work Program, to provide appropriate education and training opportunities for young people leaving school with poor employment prospects, was announced in November 1979. The Commonwealth will provide $150m over the five years 1980-1984 on the understanding that the States and the Northern Territory will provide contributions from 1981. The Commonwealth's contribution in 1980 is $25m, rising to $40m in real terms in 1984. The Transition Program is now well under way in all States and Territories. The rate at which authorities in the States have been able to develop their programs has varied and actual expenditure under the Program to June 1980 was $4.5m. The rate of development, however, is increasing substantially and is expected to reach a high level of activity in the second half of 1980. Projects have so far been approved to a total commitment of $20m for 1980 and additional proposals are under consideration.

The 1980-81 Budget makes provision for $3 2.9m to be available. Of this amount $32. 4m will be available to the States and the Northern Territory and $0.-5m to the Australian Capital Territory. For the calendar year 1981, the Commonwealth will make available $27.4m and it expects that the States will contribute a total of $9.9m to bring the total cost of the Program in that year to $37.3m. The Commonwealth is at present negotiating with the States concerning their financial contributions to the Program in 1 98 1 and subsequent years. As a first step towards the objective of rationalising the range of allowances and benefits available to the 15 to 19 years age group in the process of transition, the Government has increased the secondary allowances and means test by 20 per cent and has made adjustments to the TEAS allowances and means test. This whole question is being kept under review.

Education Program for Unemployed Youth (EPUY)

Estimated expenditure under this Program is expected to rise from $3.6m in 1979-80 to $4m in 1980-81. Additional funds will also be available under the School to Work Transition Program for more EPUY courses. It is estimated that this will provide for an increase of some 50 per cent in the number of students in EPUY courses in 1980 compared with 1979.

OTHER PROGRAMS

Curriculum Development Centre

An allocation of $2.5m is proposed for the Curriculum Development Centre in 1980-81 compared with $2.4m in 1979-80. Increases in activity will occur in mathematics, language development, science and the Aboriginal education curriculum areas. A major project will be to develop further the concept of core curriculum.

Education Research and Development Committee (ERDC)

The funding for the Education Research and Development Committee for 1980-81 is $1.2m compared with $lm in 1979-80. These funds will enable an increase in the number of grants for projects in priority areas which are of concern to the Government.

Handicapped Children

As a new policy proposal in 1980-81, an additional Sim will be provided under the Schools Commision's Special Education Program for the extra staff resources required to allow the integration of a further 300 handicapped children into normal schools. This will be in addition to ongoing Commonwealth expenditure on the education of handicapped children, which will amount to $ 17.8m in 1981 under the Special Education Program.

Refugee Education

During 1980-81 some 5,500 school age children are expected to arrive in Australia under the Government's refugee and special humanitarian programs. The amount provided for the Commonwealth Contingency Program for Refugee Children will be increased from $2.7m to $3. 3m.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Government Schools

The overall recurrent expenditure in the Australian Capital Territory for government schools and pre-schools for 1980-81 will increase by 7 per cent from $69.8m in 1979-80 to $74.8m. Total outlay for these schools in 1980-81 including capital is estimated at $78. 8m. Capital expenditure is, however, expected to fall from $7. 3m to $4m because of the reduced requirement for new schools as school enrolments have levelled out.

Despite the Government's continued emphasis on expenditure restraint, the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority has been given additional financial resources to open three new secondary schools in 1981. These are Erindale College, Wanniassa High School and Charnwood High School. This achievement has been made possible by keeping the initial funding and staffing costs to a minimum. For 1980-81, $1 .7m has been set aside for modifications to the ventilation systems of Australian Capital Territory government schools. This will enable the work to be completed in three years rather than the five years originally contemplated, representing a substantial acceleration of the ventilation program.

Non-Government Schools

A total of $ 11.6m will be made available to Australian Capital Territory non-government schools in recurrent per capita grants this year. This compares with $ 10.4m in 1979-80. A further $400,000 will be made available under other programs of assistance such as text book subsidies and library grants. An estimated $3. 5m for capital programs will be provided to fund new and existing school projects. Funds will be provided for the erection of two Catholic systemic primary schools, at Wanniassa and Kaleen, expected to open in 1982.

Australian Capital Territory Further Education

The financial provision made for the development of further education in the Australian Capital Territory in 1980-81 reflects an increase of 18 per cent in recurrent expenditure over the previous year, from $ 12.1m to $ 14.4m. Spending on plant and equipment will rise from $700,000 in 1979-80 to $lm in 1980-81, an increase of 35 per cent. The additional provision will allow for major new buildings to be equipped and also for obsolete equipment to be replaced. Funds available for furniture and fittings will rise from $300,000 to $lm. At the same time the funds made available in the program of the National Capital Development Commission for capital works will fall in 1980-81 to $7.7m from the total of $11.7m provided in 1979-80. This reduction reflects the tapering oft* of an extensive building program which has been carried out in recent years. A start is, however, to be made on a major new building, the central services building, at the Canberra College of Technical and Further Education to cost $3.9m.

As from the beginning of 1981 the Woden Technical and Further Education College will take possession of its major new building in the heart of the Woden Valley, and the Canberra School of Art will occupy the impressive new buildings which complete the initial development of its site at Acton. From the beginning of 1981 there will be an increase of 1 5 per cent to 20 per cent in the fees charged for non-vocational courses in Australian Capital Territory further education institutions, in evening colleges and in charges for the use of school facilities by community groups. Details will be announced separately.

GRANTS-IN-AID

Eight educational organisations are to receive grants-in-aid in 1980-81 with a total value of $483,500. The largest single grant is for the Australian Council for Educational Research, which will receive $319,000, an increase of $24,000 over the previous year. It is usual for State governments as a group to match the Commonwealth contribution. The grant to the United World Colleges Trust has been increased from $18,000 to $28,000 to provide for four - an increase of two - scholarships for Australian students in the final two years of secondary schooling to study at United World Colleges in Singapore, Canada and Wales. The Australian Council of State Schools Organisations is to receive a grant of $25,000, the level to which assistance was increased during 1979-80, while the grant to the Australian Parents Council will be increased from $15,000 to $16,500. The Australian Music Examinations Board will continue to receive a grant of $35,000. The grant for the Current Affairs Bulletin, produced by the Adult Education Department of the University of Sydney, has been reduced from $1 5,000 to $10,000. The Australian Association of Adult Education will receive a grant of $20,000, an increase of $3,000. A new grant-in-aid of $30,000 will go to Outward Bound Australia, to assist in the development of courses offered for young people and to help keep course fees at a reasonable level. The grant is recognition of outstanding achievement by a voluntary organisation.

The decisions taken by the Government both in formulating the guidelines for the education commissions and in the Budget context indicate beyond doubt the continuing commitment to maintain the priority of educational programs. Decisions on assistance for students in particular demonstrate the Government's commitment to maintain its support of students both at schools and tertiary institutions. I present the following paper:

Commonwealth Education Funding 1980-81 - Ministerial Statement, 20 August 1980.







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