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Thursday, 20 March 1980
Page: 870

Senator TEAGUE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. What progress has been made in the development of training courses for Aboriginal teacher aides? Is there adequate financial provision to implement courses at an early stage, has a satisfactory curriculum now been developed and will the arrangements for the courses meet the special needs and circumstances of Aboriginal communities and of those Aboriginal persons with most potential to be teacher aides? Finally, can the Minister assure me that the Pitjantjatjara communities of South Australia have full access to the best teacher aide training available.

Senator CHANEY - There is substantial teacher aide employment around Australia. About 580 aides are employed in the different States and the Northern Territory as a result of finance directly provided by the Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. However, some States employ additional aides. Queensland provides substantial additional numbers from its own resources. There is some employment of aides by other States. Associated with those grants from my Department are grants which relate to the training of teacher aides. There are grants for $40,000 and $98,000 to Queensland and South Australia respectively for special curriculum development projects. In fact, as in most educational areas there is a variety of training programs around the States which are generally based on in-service course work conducted either locally or at some central training place.

Some States have developed career structures for training teacher aides and also there are some support schemes attached to tertiary institutions to assist aides who wish to undertake formal teacher training courses; in other words, there are some provisions for moving from teacher aide to full teaching qualifications. The training varies from State to State and obviously there are some variations in the degree of effectiveness from State to State. The design and monitoring of the training are undertaken with the participation of Aboriginal consultative groups which advise State education authorities on all aspects of education programs for Aboriginals. The national inquiry into teacher education, which will be receiving submissions from the Commonwealth Department of Education and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs as well as from the National Aboriginal Education Committee, is likely to make recommendations on the needs and future strategies in this area.

Special arrangements for teacher aide training associated with the Pitjantjatjara community education services include the provision of a special co-ordinator and in-service training personnel as well as proposals for a Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal school assistant training scheme to begin in 1981. The South Australia Department of Education has adopted as official departmental policy a report by Dr Penny entitled 'The Training of Pitjantjatjara Aborigines for greater teaching responsibilities in South Australian Schools', one strategy being to offer a three-year course in training leading to a classification as a tribal Aboriginal teacher. Graduates of this course will be available for regular employment as teachers within the State education system. Bearing in mind that Aboriginal children are also scattered throughout the State school system, I think it is encouraging that, quite apart from the large number of teacher aides, something like 260 Aboriginals are now training to be teachers- that is, full teachers. I think that the very considerable increase in the number of Aboriginal people offering for teacher training over the past four or five years is likely to be very beneficial to the substantially increased number of Aboriginal children going to both primary and secondary school.

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