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Thursday, 17 November 1983
Page: 2847

Mr DAWKINS (Minister for Finance10.22) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to provide funds for the major new participation and equity program which will commence in 1984. Programs for schools will be administered by the Commonwealth Schools Commission while the tertiary and further education program will be administered by the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission. The Department of Education and Youth Affairs will exercise a strong co-ordinating role. Because this program will be administered by both commissions the Government has decided to provide the funds separately from the States Grants (Schools Assistance) legislation and the States Grants ( Tertiary Education Assistance) legislation for which the normal Bills are being introduced today.

The participation and equity program is designed to encourage a significant increase in participation by young people in education and training, to provide a useful and fulfilling education, and to encourage the achievement of more equal educational outcomes. The program is directed towards bringing about wide- ranging changes in schools which will enable them to give all students, and especially those from a disadvantaged background, a rewarding, useful education through to the end of secondary schooling. The program will be directed particularly to secondary schools with low retention rates.

The program will provide support for courses and activities in TAFE colleges which positively enrich and expand the range of options available to youth, particularly for those less academically inclined and those currently unemployed . Courses should meet community needs, individual needs, and the national need for an adequately educated and adaptable skilled work force. Funds will also be available for approved projects conducted by other State authorities, community organisations and other non-institutional bodies.

As announced earlier this program will be funded on a triennial basis and the funds provided will be adjusted retrospectively for relevant cost increases. The amounts in this Bill are at levels reflecting the latest available data for the relevant cost indexes. For 1984, the Bill appropriates grants to the States and the Northern Territory totalling $73.408m. This comprises $40.043m for government schools, $4.523m for non-government schools, $28.188m for TAFE, and $ 654,000 for projects and programs of national significance. The Bill also provides grants of $73.408m per annum for 1985 and 1986. Both commissions have now submitted supplementary reports to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs (Senator Ryan) on the structure and scope of this program and the Minister will be tabling these reports shortly.

The participation and equity program will be a central part of the overall framework of youth policies that the Government is developing. Its twin objectives of increasing participation in education and of introducing greater equity in our overall provision for young people reflect the Government's basic priorities for meeting the needs of young people. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Coleman) adjourned.