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Tuesday, 21 August 1973
Page: 180

Mr OLDMEADOW (Holt) -I am encouraged to hear the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) endorsing the points put forward in amending the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act. As outlined in the second reading speech by the Minister, the amending legislation covers 5 principal points. They are special superannuation arrangements, book and equipment allowance to Commonwealth Teaching Service students, the repeal of regulations affecting female officers' absence from duty due to pregnancy and child birth and finally the provision of special educational duties in respect of members of the Commonwealth

Teaching Service. These provisions in the Bill are matters of machinery which, although practical and essential, would be hardly likely to raise issues of policy or to excite debate on future educational development or philosophy. I desire therefore to address myself to the amendments proposed to section 4 of the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act and to the extension and expansion of the service which is made possible by the definitive roles of what the Act describes as 'teaching duties'. lt may be remembered that in my maiden speech on 6 March this year I made reference to the need for comprehensive and specialist services. In the debate on the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill on 3 May I cited in detail examples from my own experience as a secondary school teacher in Victoria. 1 reminded the House that teaching duties are not to be seen as filling a human vacuum with structured facts and tabulated knowledge. On both those occasions I sought to make a plea for the student as a whole person and to recognise the child's total existence inside the school and out of it. My support of this Bill is therefore consistent with the views that I have espoused in the short time that I have been a member of the Parliament. It was particularly encouraging to hear the Minister speak in his second reading speech of the teaching force of the Commonwealth Teaching Service becoming hopefully a laboratory for new and valid educational ideas. The Commonwealth Teaching Service is, I believe, destined to play a significant pace-setting role in what may become a series of controlled experiments in functional education.

Although the Service reveals itself as an efficient and in some respects a unique organisation in the Australian Capital Territory, it would be unfortunate if Australia failed to recognise the responsibility of the service in what has been in the past an educationally complex condition in the Northern Territory. Furthermore, the general needs of our native people- in particular, the Aboriginal child- have, I believe, at long last made their claims upon the consciousness and sense of justice of all progressive Australians. The Commonwealth Teaching Service is responsible for the education of large numbers of Aboriginal children. Language and communication difficulties are legion, to say nothing of the long neglect of ethnic, cultural and environmental considerations which constitute a challenge to educators and sociologists alike. Neither can we ignore the claims which seem likely to be made upon us in the not too distant future regarding secondary and technical education in Papua

New Guinea. These factors also indicate the necessity for an increased diversification of teaching skills and supporting ancillary services. The CTS must therefore, be able to develop facilities for programs of research designed to meet the exigencies of technological and ecological change encountered not only in the urban life of Australia but also in the widespread areas under Commonwealth administration and control.

The report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission tabled in the last session of Parliament, commenting upon the devolution of responsibility, is at pains to point out that the Australian Government has a supplementary role to that of the States. It does not favour a national bureaucracy being further removed from the schools than are the States administrations. The report does, however, stress that 'the Australian Government's responsibility may become increasingly important in ensuring an adequate level of resources and their equitable spread '. In the same report 's section headed Diversity', it recommends stimulation among teachers and community in a search for more appropriate social and individual forms of learning and relationships.

In an article in the 'Canberra Times' entitled The Role of the Commonwealth Teaching Service', Mr W. J. Weeden, then Acting Commissioner of the Commonwealth Teaching Service wrote:

Schools in the A.C.T. will be unlike any other government schools in Australia. Their governing boards or councils will include representatives of the community, of parents and of teachers, and perhaps also nominees of the Education Authority itself.

Hiscomments are in accord with the findings of the Karmel report. Mr Weeden 's words unlike any other government schools' have a challenging and prophetic ring about them. If the Schools Commission's report is implementedtonight, we heard that its provisions are to be implemented- the word 'unlike' may at least in this respect be changed to 'like'. In other words, the development of a participating community together with an adequately trained and skilled group of educationally professional specialists will become the norm for every school, both within the purview of the Commonwealth Teaching Service and beyond it to the State schools and associated specialist services. In the meantime this important amendment of section 4 of the Act enlarges the scope of the Service itself and can- and I believe will- form models and pilot operations which the various States can use in their own assessments and planning. Whilst traditionally, and in prospect, the responsibility for education lies with the States, the enlargement of research and experimental facilities within the Commonwealth Teaching Service offers unprecedented opportunities to initiate and implement change towards a contemporary educational achievement. I commend the Bill to the House.

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