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Tuesday, 7 December 1971
Page: 4135

Mr FitzPATRICK - Is the Minister for Education and Science aware that the crisis in our rural industries is the cause of many healthy and intelligent young Australians being denied an opportunity to gain an education? Is he aware that children of parents who live in isolated areas are forced to pay an unequal and unjustified price in this crisis? Will the Minister inform the House whether he has received a telegram from the National President of the Isolated Children's Parents Association which points out the large number of children who will be unable to continue school in the next term unless they receive some form of living away assistance? Will the Minister inform the House whether he is able to assist these students or whether he in investigating this serious matter?

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I am sorry but I cannot say. I will have to check whether I have or have not received a telegram from the particular person that was mentioned. As honourable members know, there is a good deal of correspondence on this matter and I will have to check with my office. However, I am aware of the problems; I am aware of the concern. I do know that a delegation of people concerned with this particular matter saw Mr Cutler, the Minister for Education and Science in New South Wales, at an earlier point. I understand that the New South Wales Government is concerned with the western areas of that State and with the problems which confront some of the schools in the western division. A number of things have been done and have helped to ameliorate the problem but I do not suggest that they have overcome it entirely. There is a problem of distance and, whatever is done, in part that will remain a problem. But the system of scholarships does provide some help especially at the tertiary level where the living away from home allowance., are, of course, greater than the allowances for those who live at home. But perhaps more important than that is the development of colleges of advanced education at a number of decentralised areas throughout Australia. There are now over 40 colleges of advanced education. 1 know that these are not all decentralised but they do provide in rural areas tertiary education opportunities which would not otherwise have been available, so this again is a partial answer. I am sympathetic to the concern and for the need of this area but I should draw the honourable member's attention to the fact that a number of States do provide some living away from home allowances specifically for children who need to board to continue their secondary schooling. Not all States have such programmes but this is a part of education that the States have looked after up to the present time in respect to secondary schooling. Of course, the Commonwealth has similar kinds of programmes in the Northern Territory where the problem of distance is a very real one. Nevertheless, having said all that, I recognise that a problem remains.

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