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Australian volunteer teachers head to the Maldives.



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Minister for Family and Community Services

Media Release

Australian volunteer teachers head to the Maldives

24/01/2005

A group of Australian volunteer teachers will leave for the Maldives tomorrow to play a part in helping the country and in particular its children, recover from the devastating Boxing Day tsunami.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson today met the teachers who have volunteered their skills for six months to help the education sector get back on its feet.

"In a very practical way, these volunteer teachers from Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia will play an important role in helping the Ministry of Education ensure that the school year, delayed until January 25, stays on track," Senator Patterson said.

"As well as teaching, they will pay particular attention to the emotional needs of the children, many of whom have lost loved ones, their homes and whose families are struggling to make ends meet.

"With school such a big part of children's lives, the combined 104 years experience offered by the Australian teachers will help the children and their families as they pick up the pieces of their lives," Senator Patterson said.

The deployment of the volunteer teachers was announced by the Prime Minister John Howard following a request from the President of Maldives on January 9. A second group of nine volunteer teachers will follow shortly.

At least 74 people in the Maldives lost their lives in the tsunami and 13,000 have been internally displaced. More than 100,000 people were severely affected.

"The volunteer teachers follow the deployment of other Australian experts including a medical and relief team, Australian experts in the management of coral reefs and fisheries and engineers," Senator Patterson said.

Australia's response to the Maldives is being coordinated by the Australian Government's overseas aid agency (AusAID)

For further information on the volunteers, please visit www.ausaid.gov.au.