Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 23 August 1973
Page: 317


Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) (Minister for Education) - by leave - At the outset I should like to say that when I am making certain statements about funds which are coming from the Commonwealth Budget there is one respect in which they are not an increase. They are part of a different way of funding. The States are receiving their share of the costs of tertiary education through grants under section 96 of the Constitution, and this amount is being deducted from the grants to the States, as agreed at the Premiers Conference of June 1973. I might mention also at the outset that the appropriations for the child care program appear in the Budget not under education but under the functional classification of social security and welfare.

The Treasurer (Mr Crean) has already outlined the very substantial increases which will take place in expenditure on education for 1973-74 over the previous financial year. The increases confirm the speed with which the Government has moved not only to implement announced policies but also to introduce additional measures vital to the great transformation in accessibility of education to young people, which is the Government's aim. This transformation in accessibility of education will offer greater prospects than ever before of meeting the reasonable and legitimate educational expectations of all Australians. Before I describe in more detail the elements which make up the Government's comprehensive program in education, I will highlight in summary form some of the significant initiatives the Government has taken and some of the more substantial increases in expenditure on continuing programs which are reflected in the Budget. In this summary I will indicate the outlays provided in the Budget for these items.

TERTIARY AND POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

Tertiary and post-secondary student allowance schemes to replace the existing Commonwealth university, advanced education and technical scholarship schemes and expansion of the Commonwealth postgraduate awards scheme - $58m. The figure of $32m mentioned by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech covers the cost of new programs beginning next year but does not include the cost of the existing programs in the second half of this calendar year. Provision for the Australian Government to assume full financial responsibility for tertiary education from January 1974 and to abolish tuition fees at universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges and technical colleges - $2 12m. I draw attention to the qualification of the changed method of funding I mentioned at the outset of this speech. Assistance to technical and further education including special supplementary grants to the States of $10m in advance of the report of the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education - $25.6m.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

Programs of assistance to Australian schools in accordance with the recommendations of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, including special programs for disadvantaged schools and education of the handicapped - $97m. The House will recall that these programs begin in January and therefore there is within that figure not a full year's expenditure. A new program of financial assistance for low income families who may be expected to experience difficulty in maintaining their children in senior secondary education - $ 1.75m. Assistance for the education of isolated children - $9.8m.

PRE-SCHOOL EDUCATION

Provision for pre-school education and child care programs being developed by the Australian Pre-Schools Committee - $10m That is, of course, being provided in advance of the Committee's recommendations.

EDUCATION OF SPECIAL GROUPS

Aboriginal secondary grants scheme, extended this year to all children of Aboriginal descent in secondary schools - S5.7m. Migrant education - provision of funds for the purchase of demountable classroom accommodation for migrant children attending special English classes - $2m.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN EDUCATION

Provision for educational research grants supported by the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education to be increased to $350,000. Support for the establishment and maintenance of an independent curriculum development centre - $500,000.

In addition to these important initiatives the Budget provides for substantial increases in outlays on many continuing programs and all major sectors of education in Australia will benefit from these increases. The estimated outlay by the Australian Government on education in 1973-74 of $843m represents an increase of 92 per cent over 1972-73. I say that again with the qualification of the change in funding. This is only the first step in an investment which by 1974-75 is likely to exceed $ 1,000m. The States will receive almost two and one-half times as much for expenditure on tertiary and technical education, schools and pre-schools as in 1972-73. From $253m last year the payments to the States will increase to $62 8m. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a summary table of estimated outlays on education by the Australian Government in 1973-74.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

 


Mr BEAZLEY - I turn now to discuss in more detail the major areas comprising the Government's program in education.

Tertiary Education

The Government has already announced major initiatives which will greatly improve accessibility of entry to this level of education. Improvement of the quality of education at other levels will also result from these initiatives because of the expansion and improvement of teacher education along with other areas of tertiary education.

Agreement was reached with the State Premiers in June that the Australian Government would from 1 January 1974 take over the financial commitment of the States to approved programs for the remainder of the triennium 1973-75 in respect of universities and colleges of advanced education. The Australian Government will also finance teachers colleges and pre-school teachers colleges to the levels recommended by the Cohen Committee on teacher education. The additional cost to the Government in the present financial year is estimated at $144m, but will be more than double this amount in the 1974-75 financial year. The Government will provide a further $33m in this financial year as its share in the program for teacher education recommended by the Cohen Committee. This includes funds for the development of library materials - SI. 5m in the remainder of the triennium. The high quality and professionalism of the teacher must surely be the most vital input into the education process. While dealing with the tertiary and post-secondary measures, I must mention the abolition of fees. The Government has decided, as announced earlier this year, to abolish tuition and related fees in universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges and technical colleges. The cost of this program will be S27m for tertiary fees and S7m for fees in technical colleges during the 6 months January-June 1974.

Some innovation is to be introduced into the method of financing tertiary education to make specific allowance for cost rise. Since grants to universities and colleges of advanced education are determined from 1 to 4 years ahead of actual expenditure, these institutions find their financial resources, strained in periods when costs rise more rapidly than might reasonably have been anticipated. The Government has decided 'hat from the beginning of 1974 it will provide adjustments to approved programs of expenditure to take account of variations in costs for both capital and recurrent expenditure which were not allowed for when the programs were adopted.

Academic Salaries

The Government has accepted the salary increases for academic staff at universities and colleges of advanced education recommended by Mr Justice Campbell in a report tabled in May 1973. The increases are retrospective to 1 January 1973 and are estimated to cost the Government more than $ 16.5m in this financial year. When the Government assumes full responsibility for the funding of tertiary education from 1 January 1974 the cost to the Government in the first full year is expected to be $48m. Recommendations made in the report for a permanent tribunal to review and determine academic salaries arc currently being studied.

Management Education

Following a long period of indecision by the previous Government, we have decided to put into effect the recommendations of a committee of overseas experts for the establishment of a national postgraduate school of management education at the University of New South Wales. We consider it essential that postgraduate management education facilities of the highest quality should be offered in Australia and will provide the sum of $2,330,000 during the 1973-75 triennium. From and including 1976 funds lor this national school will be provided on the recommendation of the Australian Universities Commission as part of the normal triennial university program. An amount of $350,000 has been allocated in this Budget to enable the project to be commenced. Associated with upgrading the quality of management education in Australia is the need to increase the supply of quality teachers, both foi the national school and for other schools of management education. To meet this need the Government will award scholarships to enable Australian graduates of high quality to undertake doctoral studies overseas. An amount of $50,000 is provided in this financial year to enable the first of these awards to be made as soon as possible.

Open University

In passing I should also like to say that the inquiry set up by this Government into an open university is proceeding Submissions are being considered, and the present timetable of the chairman is for a report to be ready early in 1974.

Technical and Further Education

The Government has established the Australian Committee on Technical and Further Education, which will be concerned with the complex and diverse field of post-school education, other than tertiary education. This Committee will become a commission as soon as appropriate legislation can be introduced. The Committee has commenced intensive investigations on which its report to the Government will be based. Programs of assistance arising from the Committee's recommendations will commence in July 1974.

As an interim measure supplementary grants totalling $10m will be made available to the States for technical education during the 1973-74 financial year. These supplementary grants are in addition to the balance of the $36m made available to the States under the program during the 3-year period from 1 July 1971 to 30 June 1974. The total of $25.6m for 1973-74 will enable the States to provide urgent capital works for technical education during the interim period before assistance is based on the recommendations of the Technical and Further Education Commission.

Primary and Secondary Education

Legislation will be introduced during this session to establish the Australian Schools Commission. The report of the Interim Committee for the Schools Commission represents a landmark in assistance to Australian Schools. Because the new program begins on 1 January 1974, only half the growth in the first year is reflected in the present Budget for recurrent expenditure and somewhat less than half for capital programs which require longer planning. The provision in the 1973-74 Budget is $97m. The Government's acceptance of the major recommendations of the Committee will mean new programs from 1974 aimed at improving the quality of education and promoting accessibility to education. Both government and non-government schools will receive substantial additional funds to meet general recurrent costs and for new and replacement buildings and equipment.

Special programs will promote rapid development in areas of particular need such as school libraries, teacher development, education of the handicapped and education in socially disadvantaged localities. Educational strategies and techniques must, of course, change to meet changing needs, and the Government will support programs recommended by the Committee to foster innovation and development in primary and secondary education. The special programs for socially disadvantaged schools represent an important departure from Australian traditions in public education. Supplementary funds will be made available to schools identified as being disadvantaged on the basis of certain characteristics of their catchment areas so that they can respond to the particular educational difficulties faced by groups of relatively poor children. The Government's needs policy requires that special attention and resources be devoted to the education of those groups of children who in the past have had least public money spent on their education because they leave school earlier and gain no benefit from expensive tertiary education facilities. If the revolution in accessibility to education is to be achieved we must discriminate in favour of those children in greatest need.

Pre-Schools and Child Care

The Australian Pre-Schools Committee, which also will become a commission, will report within the next 2 months. Detailed programs will then be developed to implement the Government's objectives that all children are given the opportunity of one year of preschool and that child care facilities are established to meet the needs of the children of working parents and under-privileged families. An amount of $10m has been provided in the Budget to allow the first stage of activities to commence in January 1974. These funds will be specifically appropriated through legislation to be introduced later this session. Meanwhile grants are being made under the Child Care Act 1972 to assist, establish and operate child care centres. Thirty-eight capital projects involving an estimated commitment of $3.1m have already been approved in principle. An estimated 1,600 new child care places should result. A total of S8.03m is provided in the Budget to cover these and other applications for capital assistance as well as recurrent grants to existing centres approved under the Act. Child care research grants will be financed by a further appropriation of $200,000. Priority is being given to applications from areas of need. Organisations and local authorities in other areas of need are being encouraged to seek grants for the establishment of child care centres. The appropriations for the child care program do not appear in the Budget Speech under 'Education' but under the functional classification of Social Security and Welfare'.

We have increased support to the national secretariat of the Australian Pre-Schools Association ($35,400 in 1973-74) which plays an important co-ordinating role in the voluntary pre-school education movement in Australia. The Government's decision to establish a Pre-Schools Commission will necessarily lead to a review of its relationship with the Association but I have no doubt that the Association will continue to make significant contribution in the vital first stage of education. The Government's annual grant to the 6 Lady Gowrie Centres with which the Association is also involved will be increased by $44,000 to a total of $275,000 in 1973-74. These centres continue to provide observation and demonstration services for institutions training teachers and other professionapeople.

Student Assistance

I turn now to the measures which the Government has adopted for its program of student assistance. This is an important area and it is one in which the Government has taken major initiatives in the creation of betteopportunities for students at all levels of edi cation. The estimated cost of the program in 1973-74 is $86m and will directly involve 1 66,000 students, in addition to the many who will be assisted by the abolition of fees in teritiary and post-secondary courses. The effectiveness of previous schemes has been inhibited by the emphasis placed on competition. This is particularly true of the tertiary scholarship schemes, where for too long a student's future may have been determined by the loss or gain of a single mark. If we are serious in our desire to provide equal opportunities for all students, so that they may progress to the level of education consistent with their abilities and aspirations, then we must reduce the emphasis on competitive schemes with limited numbers of scholarships and think rather in terms of grants whereby able students are assisted in accordance with their needs. The Government's program in the field of student assistance has placed great stress upon the removal of the financial barriers to a student's educational fulfilment.

Assistance for Tertiary Students

I have already spoken about the Government decisions in relation to the abolition of fees at universities, colleges of advanced education and technical colleges. This is only the first step in making tertiary and postsecondary education more readily accessible to able students. As a second step, the Government has decided to introduce a scheme of tertiary and post-secondary allowances. Under this scheme any full-time Australian student enrolled in an approved course at either a university, college of advanced education, teachers college, technical college or agricultural college will be able to apply for a living allowance subject to a means test on family income. The new allowances will replace the Commonwealth University, Commonwealth Advanced Education, and Commonwealth Technical Scholarship Schemes and no new awards will be offered under these schemes in 1974. There will be adequate safeguards to ensure that- students receiving benefits under existing awards are not in any way disadvantaged by the introduction of the new measures.

The conditions of living and dependants' allowances under the new scheme will be similar to those under existing teritary scholarship schemes. However, the rates of allowance will be raised and the means test will be liberalised. For students living away from home the maximum allowance payable will be $1,400 per annum, a rise of $100 per annum. For those living at home the allowance will be raised from the existing $800 per annum to $850 per annum. The level of the adjusted family income at which these maximum allowances will be payable will be increased from $4,200 a year to $5,300 a year. Students who qualify for the payment of a living allowance under the new scheme will be entitled to 2 other types of benefit, an incidentals allowance and a travel allowance. The incidentals allowance is designed to assist students in meeting the cost of fees such as student representative council, union and sports fees. Eligible students attending universities will receive an incidentals allowance of Si 00 per annum, those at colleges of advanced education $70 per annum, and technical college students $30 per annum.

I would like to digress here to deal specifically with the issue of student union and similar fees on which I have listened to various arguments since the Government indicated that these charges did not come within the proposed fee abolition arrangements. I accept that a complex situation exists and that there are considerable inconsistencies in the present union fee situation. There is furthermore a wide diversity in the facilities which are provided under the auspices of the unions. Because of this diversity I have asked the 2 tertiary Commissions to make an investigation and to suggest guidelines as to what charges should legitimately be met by the Australian Government and what charges should be met by the students themselves. The additional cost of any changes in the present funding arrangements will then have to be examined alongside other priorities.

In 1974 however, the arrangements I have already outlined will apply. The provision of a meanstested incidentals allowance from which student union and similar fees may be paid will ensure that those in need receive assistance to pay the fees. The travel allowance will cover 3 return trips between the student's home and the institution at which he is enrolled, provided that he must live away from home to attend that institution. It has been estimated that some 55,000 students will receive benefits under the new scheme, whilst a further 20,000 students will continue to receive assistance under existing provisions. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement providing details of tertiary allowances available for 1974.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

TERTIARY ALLOWANCES SCHEME

Earlier this year the Government announced that as a complement to its decision to abolish tuition and certain other compulsory fees at universities, colleges of advanced education, approved teacher raining colleges and technical colleges, it would provide meanstested living and other allowances to all full-time non-bonded Australian students admitted to these courses. The following statement has been prepared to supplement the information provided in the statement to Parliament made by the Minister for Education, Mr Kim E. Beazley, M.P., following the Budget Speech.

1.   Benefits.

The following benefits will be available for 1974:

(a)   Living Allowances. The maximum rates for living allowance payable will be $850 per annum for students living at home and $1,400 per annum for students living away from home. The latter rate will also be payable to students who:

Because of distance and time involved in daily travel must live away from home in order to attend the institution of their choice.

Who are 21 years of age and wish to live away from home.

Who are 'independent' of parental support in that they are married, orphans, wards of the State, are 25 years of age or have maintained themselves without parental support for at least two of the previous five years.

Independent students, unlike others, have the means test applied to their own, and where appropriate,heir spouse's income and not parental income.

(b)   Incidentals Allowance. Students qualifying for living allowance will also be granted an incidentals allowance which will assist them in meeting costs of fees such as student representative council, union and sports fees. It is also intended that part of this allowance could assist students in meeting expenses associated with the purchase of books and equipment.

There is a wide variation in the level of incidental fees charged at different institutions and particularly between categories of instituttions. For this reason it has been decided that the incidentals allowance payable should vary as follows: $100 per annum for students in universities $70 per annum for students in colleges of advanced education, teachers' colleges and similar institutions $30 per annum for students in technical colleges and similar institutions.

It should be noted that the full incidentals allowance will be paid where a student qualifies for a full or part living allowance. It will not be reduced on a sliding scale according to the amount of living allowance received.

(a)   Dependants' Allowances. A student who qualifies for a living allowance may also receive an allowance of $8 per week for a dependent spouse. Students with dependent children may also receive an allowance of $4.50 per week for each child.

(d)   Travel Allowance. Students living away from their normal places of residence in order to undertake their courses of study may be reimbursed the cost of three return trips per annum be ween their homes and the institution. This will only be provided for students who qualify for assistance under the means test and will normally be restricted to travel by second-class rail except where other means of transport are approved. For example, there will be cases where there is no rail link or railravel would be unreasonable because of the time and distance involved.

2.   The Means Test.

(a)   Ordinary Students - As indicated above, benefits will only be paid to students who qualify under a means test. The maximum rates of living allowance will be paid where the adjusted family income is equal to or lessthan $5,300 per annum. The adjusted family income is assessed by subtracting from the gross income of both parents business expenses and an amount of S4S0 for each dependent child other than the student.

When the adjusted family income exceeds $5,300 per annum .ne amount of living allowance will be reduced by $2 for every $10 of income until the family income exceeds $10,600 per annum. After this level, the living allowance will be reduced by $3 foi every $10 of income.

A concession may be made where there are other children in the family undertaking tertiary education with scholarship assistance from schemes other than the Tertiary Allowance Scheme of less than $350 per annum. For instance, where there is one sibling for whom a concession may be made, the rate at which living allowance is reduced is $1 for every $10 of family income between $5,300 and $10,600 per annum and by $1.50 for every $10 of income thereafter. The effect of this concession is shown in the following table:

Students receiving income from other scholarships in excess of $350 will not be eligible for assistance under the Tertiary Allowances Scheme (see 'Eligibility' below). However, students receiving income from casual employment and other sources may receive up to $1,500 p.a. without affecting their entitlemment to living allowance. If their income exceeds this level their living allowance will be reduced on a $ for $ basis. Income from employmment during the long vacation will not be taken into account in the assessment of a student's living allowance.

(b)   Married and other Independent Students - The entitlement of these students for living allowance is assessed on the basis of their own, and where appropriate, their spouse's income. A single independent student will be entitled to receive income of up to $1,500 p.a. (excluding the long vacation) under similar conditions to an ordinary student as described above. Married scholars will be subject to similar conditions except that their spouses may earn up to $5,300 p.a. without affecting their living allowance entitlement. Married students' living allowance will be reduced by $2 for every $3 of income in excess of this, which differs from the $ for $ basis which operates for single students.

3.   Eligibility.

(a)   On Personal GroundsAssistance will be available to students whose parents are ordinarily permanent residents of Australia or who are themselves permanent residents or bona fide migrants. Students who reside in Australia with temporary residence authority only and whose parents are not permanent residents of Australia will not be eligible for assistance under the Scheme.

Bonded students are not eligible for living allowance, although students who are under a bond or similar agreement may become eligible for assistance by arranging to meet the obligations under a bond to the satisfaction of the authorities concerned. Students who receive assistance from unbonded scholarships of $350 p.a. or more will not be eligible for assistance.

There will be no restrictions placed on the age of applicants.

(b)   On Academic Grounds - Benefits will normally be restricted to the minimum number of years of any approved course, although where illness or other extenuating circumstances may have affected a student's performance provision will be available for the payment of repeeat benefits.

For 1974 the following conditions will apply:-

(i)   benefits will be available to all students entering an approved course to commence a first qualification. They will also be provided to students admitted on a conditional basis provided they will be in a position to obtain full credit for their studies at the end of the first year;

(ii)   students who have completed one parttime or external year of a course will be eligible for assistance in 1974, irrespective of their previous results;

(iii)   students who have completed one full-time year or more (or its part-time equivalent) will be eligible for assistance in 1974 provided they have passed 50 per cent or more of their subjects in 1973 or the last year in which study was under. aken;

(iv)   students who have attempted all years of their course, but still require one or more years in which to complete it will be eligible for assistance where they are attempting at leas: 75 per cent of the normal work for that year. Students attempting less than this who have to undertake practical or laboratory work to an extent thai they cannot engage in employment, may apply for special consideration.

The general principle will be that students will be eligible for assistance if the institution permits them to proceed to the next year of the course. If, however, a student wishes to transfer to another course, benefits will not be available until he reaches a similar state in the new course, irrespective of his academic record. For example, a student who has completed two years of an Arts degree may transfer to a Medicine degree course, but will not be eligible for assistance until he has completed two years of the Medicine course.

(c)   Students Who Already Hold Qualifications - The scheme is generally designed to assist students to gain a first qualification, although students with technical certificates will be eligible for assistance for a higher qualification. Students who have completed a full degree or diploma course at a university or college of advanced education and wish to undertake another course, should apply to State Offices of the Department of Education to determine their eligibility.

4.   Approved Courses.

Students enrolled in the following types of courses will be eligible for assistance:

(a)   At Universities - Undergraduate and Postgraduate Bachelor degree courses; Postgraduate diplomas; Combined bachelor degree courses offered by institutions; Master's Qualifying courses.

(b)   At Colleges of Advanced Education: Undergraduate bachelor degree courses; Diploma, Associateship Diploma, Fellowship Diploma and Graduate Diploma courses; Diplomas in infant, primary and secondary teacher education at approved Teachers' Colleges.

(c)   At Technical Colleges - Certificate, Technician and Higher Technician courses; Preapprenticeship and pre-employment courses; Secretarial Studies.

(d)   At Other Approved Institutions - Paramedical courses; Drama, Art and Music courses; Agricultural courses.

5.   Payment of Fees.

The decision to abolish tuition and certain other compulsory fees at approved tertiary and postsecondary educational institutions will mean that most students will not be required to pay such fees. There are some other institutions, such as the Australian Ballet School, providing courses of an approved standard which will not be covered by the general financing arrangements. It has been decidedthat tuition and other approved fees will be paid for eligible students at such institutions. This assistance will not be subject to means test. Students in these courses will also be eligible for living and other allowances under the Tertiary Allowances Scheme provided they satisfy the means test. Any institution falling within this category will be contacted shortly seeking information to assist the Department of Education in determining whether particular courses should be approved for assistance.

6.   Current Scholarship Holders

In 1974 no new awards will be offered under the Commonwealth University, Advanced Education and Technical Scholarship Schemes, the Canberra Teacher Education Scholarship Scheme and the Northern Territory Scholarship Scheme.

Current holders of awards who propose to undertake full-time study in 1974, will be transferred to the new Scheme. Continuing Scholarship holders who receive living allowance will also be granted an incidentals allowance from which they may pay representative council, union or sport union fees. Arrangements will be made to pay these fees on behalf of continuing students who do not qualify for living allowance under the new scheme. Scholarship holders proceeding on a part-time basis will be covered by a similar arrangement.

Arrangements have been made to continue assistance to holders of awards under the Technical Scholarship Scheme who are engaged in secondary level courses. Students undertaking courses approved under the Tertiary Allowances Scheme will be transferred to the new scheme, although provision will be made for them to continue receiving similar benefits to the present Technical Scholarship Scheme if they so choose.

7.   HOW TO APPLY

(a)   Students in the final year of secondary school. Application forms for assistance together with general information booklets, will be distributed to all secondary schools, technical schools and matriculation colleges late in October. Although there is no closing date for applications students will be encouraged to return their application forms as quickly as possible to enable their entitlements to living allowance to be assessed.

(b)   Students enrolled in approved courses: Students who already hold Commonwealth University Advanced Education and Technical Scholarships will be sent an application form and information booklet by State Offices of the Department of Education. They will be asked to return the completed forms by 31 October.

Students who do not hold a Commonwealth Scholarship will be able to obtain application forms and information booklets from their educational institutions about the middle of October. They will also be askedto return their completed forms by 31 October or as soon as possible thereafter,

(c)   Intending applicants not currently in study - People who are not currently in study who wish to commence in an approved course in 1974, will be able to obtain the appropriate form either at an approved educational institution or by writing to the appropriate State Office of the Department of Education.

8.   State Offices of the Department of Education.

The following are the addresses of State Offices of the Department of Education:

NEW SOUTH WALES

Regional Director, New South Wales State Office, Department of Education, Sydney Plaza Building, 59 Goulburn Street, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000. G.P.O. Box 3987, Sydney, N.S.W. 2001. Telephone 20 323.

VICTORIA

Regional Director, Victorian State Office, Department of Education, 450 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004. Telephone 26 72988.

QUEENSLAND

Regional Director, Queensland State Office, Deparment of Education, 167 Eagle Street, Brisbane, Queensland 4000. G.P.O. Box 586, Brisbane, Queensland 4001. Telephone 29 4522.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Regional Director, South Australian State Office, Department of Education, Red Cross House, 228 North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000. Telephone 23 2416.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Regional Director. Western Australian Sta.e Office, Department of Education, 22 Stirling Highway, Nedlands, Western Australia 6009. P.O. Box 59,

Nedlands, Western Australia 6009. Telephone 86 7411

TASMANIA

Regional Director, Tasmanian State Office, Department of Education, Magnet Court, Sandy Bay Road, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005. P.O. Box 168, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005. Telephone 23 7506

A.C.T

Regional Director, A.C.T. Scholarships Office, City Education Centre, Acton, A.C.T. 2601. P.O. Box 1573, Canberra City, A.C.T. 2601. Telephone 47 0022


Mr BEAZLEY - I thank the House.

Assistance for Isolated Children

Earlier this year the Government announced a significant program of assistance for isolated children which was implemented immediately. Under this scheme primary and secondary students whose homes are in remote areas and who do not have reasonable daily access to normal school facilities are assisted to live away from home so that they may attend school. In addition to boarding allowances and an allowance for correspondence studies, the isolated children's scheme makes provision for the payment of a supplementary allowance to meet cases of particular hardship. This scheme is expected to cost $9.8m in this financial year. My Department will shortly be commencing a review of the scheme in co-operation with other education authorities to assess the effectiveness of this new program. As a related measure, the Government has agreed to meet the cost of replacing radio transceiver sets leased by authorities in the States and the Northern Territory to parents for use in connection with Schools of the Air. Because of a technical change in the mode of radio transmission, most sets now in use will have to be replaced by December 1977. One hundred thousand dollars will be provided for this purpose in 1973-74 and similar amounts in each of the next 2 years.

Assistance for Children of Low Income Families

There are estimated to be some 200,000 children in schools who come from homes with incomes at or below $3,100 per annum (that is, about $40 a week below the national average). Some 10,000 of these children continue to the final 2 years of secondary education. Beginning with the 1974 school year, all parents with children in the final 2 years of secondary education will be able to apply for an allowance subject to a means test on the family income. The maximum value of the allowance will be $304 per annum- $150 for clothing, $50 for books, $104 for pocket money - a total of $608 for a child at school for 2 years. The maximum allowance will be payable where the adjusted family income does not exceed $3,100 per annum. Honourable members I think will recognise that there will be many children of age and invalid pensioners, deserted wives and so on in this category.

Emphasis will be placed on a family's current financial position. Students who qualify for this assistance will also be eligible to receive benefits from the Commonwealth senior secondary scholarship scheme should they win an award. For the 10,000 students estimated to be eligible for the new allowance the annual cost of the scheme will be about $2.5m. An amount of $ 1.75m has been provided in the 1973-74 Budget to meet estimated costs in the first half of 1974. This educational assistance scheme for poverty will await further development, we hope, from the recommendations of Professor Henderson's Committee on Poverty. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard an information statement on the secondary allowances scheme.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

SECONDARY ALLOWANCES SCHEME

Information Statement

This statement provides information about the Australian Government's new measures to assist families with limited financial resources to maintain their children at school for the final two years of secondary education. The benefits under this new scheme, to be known as the Secondary Allowances Scheme, will be subject to a means test on family income and will be available to eligible families as from the beginning of the 1974 school year.

(A)   Benefits

Under the scheme a single allowance will be paid with a maximum value of $304 per annum. Payment of the allowance will be subject to a means test, the details of which are contained in an appendix to this statement.

(B)   Conditions of Eligibility

(1)   Benefits will be available in respect of students attending an approved secondary school on a fulltime basis and enrolled in the final two years of secondary education, i.e. the pre-matriculation and matriculation years.

(2)   Assistance will be provided to children and their parents who are Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia and whose homes are in Australia.

(3)   Benefits received under the Secondary Allowances Scheme will not normally affect entitlement to benefits under other Australian Government schemes of student assistance administered by the Department of Education, such as the Commonwealth Senior Secondary Scholarship Scheme. However, senior secondary students receiving supplementary assistance under the Assistance to Isolated Children Scheme will not be eligible for benefits under the new Scheme. Parents who qualify for the payment of benefits under the Secondary Allowances Scheme and who are already receiving educational assistance from other sources are advised to check with the appropriate authorities to determine whether their eligibility for that other assistance is affected.

(4)   Bonded students will not normally be eligible for a Secondary Allowance.

(5)   Students undertaking the final two years of the secondary course through a correspondence school will not be eligible for a Secondary Allowance.

(C)   How to apply for assistance

The scheme will be administered by the Regional Offices of the Australian Government Department of Education. These offices will provide application forms on request and will be responsible for processing payment of benefits. A list of addresses is given below. The appropriate forms will be available later in the year, when full publicity for the scheme will be given through schools and the media.

(D)   Addresses of Regional Offices

Regional Director, N.S.W. Office, Department of Education, La Salle Building, Corner King and Castlereagh Streets, SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2001.

Regional Director, Queensland Office, Department of Education, Australian Government Centre, 295 Ann Street, BRISBANE, QLD 4000.

Regional Director, Western Australian Office, Department of Education, 20-22 Stirling Highway, NEDLANDS, W.A. 6009.

The Director of Education, (Northern Territory Community Schools), Northern Territory Office, Department of Education, P.O. Box 4821, DARWIN, N.T. 5794.

Regional Director, Victorian Office, Department of Education, 450 St Kilda Road, MELBOURNE, VIC. 3004.

Regional Director, South Australian Office, Department of Education, Red Cross House, 228 North Terrace, ADELAIDE, S.A. 5000.

Regional Director, Tasmanian Office, Department of Education, Magnet Court. Sandy Bay Road, SANDY BAY, TAS. 7005.

The Regional Director, A.C'.T. Scholarships Office, City Education Centre, University Avenue, ACTON, A.C.T. 2601.

APPENDIX

Secondary Allowances

Explanatory Statement - Means Test

These notes explain briefly the operation of the means test which will determine a family's entitlement to assistance under the new scheme.

Entitlement to benefits will be based on the gross (not the taxable) income of both parents for the calendar year in respect of which an application for assistance is lodged, less the deductions listed below. The income for the previous six months will also be taken into account. This means that parents applying for assistance in 1974 will be required to provide the Department with details of their actual income in the period July,December 1973 and estimates of their income for the periods January-June, and JulyDecember 1974.

The following deductions will be permitted from the gross family income for the purpose of determining the adjusted family income on the basis of which a family's entitlement will be assessed:

(i)   Deductions allowed under Sections 51 (1) to 54 of the Income Tax Assessment Act covering losses and outgoings incurred in the gaining of assessable income.

(ii)   A deduction of $300 for each child in the family who is enrolled in full-time primary or secondary education or who is under school age, but not for the child in respect of whom benefits are being made. However, where there are two or more students in the family eligible for benefits, the dependant's deduction will be allowed for all except one of them.

The maximum allowance of $304 will be payable where the adjusted family income (the gross family income less the deductions shown above) does not exceed $3,100 p.a. For every $5 by which the adjusted family income exceeds $3,100 the amount of the allowance will be reduced by $1. The minimum allowance payable for any one child will be$15 p.a. which will be paid where the adjusted family income does not exceed $4,545 p.a.

Normally the allowance will be paid in three instalments, one in each term. Statements of income from the parents will be required on a regular basis to determine the parents' continued eligibility for assistance.

August 1973


Mr BEAZLEY - I thank the House.

Post-Graduate Awards

After careful examination of the Commonwealth post-graduate award schemes the Government has decided to make more awards available and to increase the benefits payable under them. The number of research awards will be raised from 700 to 725 and the present allocation of course awards will be increased from 100 to 150. In recognition of the postgraduate studies now being undertaken in colleges of advanced education a new scheme of 20 awards will begin in 1974. These awards will be reserved for post-graduate students at colleges of advanced education.

The annual stipend payable to the holder of a Commonwealth post-graduate award is $2,900. The Government has decided to raise this to $3,050 per annum. In addition there will be increases in other benefits. For those who wish to have further details of the various changes in the student assistance program, a supplementary statement is available. The new measures which the Government has introduced in the student assistance program in my view mark a significant advance in achieving what must be the ultimate aim of the program, namely, the removal of direct financial barriers to the attainment of a student's educational goals. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement providing information on postgraduate award schemes.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins - Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

COMMONWEALTH POST-GRADUATE AWARDS SCHEMES

The following notes amplify changes to be made in these schemes in 1974 as outlined by the Minister for Education, Mr Kim E. Beazley, M.P., in his speech in Parliament.

(A)   Number of Awards

(1)   Commonwealth Post-graduate Research Awards Scheme:

(a)   the number of awards available will be increased from 700 to 725.

(2)   Commonwealth Post-graduate Course Awards Scheme:

(a)   the number of awards available will be increased from 100 to 150.

(B)   Benefits

(1)   Commonwealth Post-graduate Research and Course Awards Schemes:

(a)   Living Allowance

Living allowance will be increased from $2,900 p.a. to $3,050 p.a.

(b)   Establishment Allowance

Establishment allowance will be increased from $50 to $75 for single students and from $100 to $150 for married students.

(c)   Thesis Allowance

Thesis allowance will be increased from $100 to $150 for a Master's thesis and to $250 for a Ph.D. thesis.

(d)   Incidentals Allowance

An Incidental Allowance of $100 p.a. will be payable to assist students in meeting the cost of fees such as student representative council, union and sports fees.

(C)   Post-graduate Awards for Students at Colleges of Advanced Education

Up to 20 awards with the same benefits as for Commonwealth Post-graduate Research and Course Awards will be made available in 1974 for students undertaking approved Master's degree courses at colleges of advanced education.

Department of Education August 1973


Mr BEAZLEY -I thank the House.

Education for Special Groups

There are a number of special groups in the community whose education demands greater efforts and sympathy. The education of physically and mentally handicapped children receives particular attention in the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. From a projected program of $43.5m during 1974 and 1975, an estimated $7.7m will be spent in this year on the education of handicapped children including capital facilities, recurrent grants and inservice training courses. In this connection I should mention also the $1.5m for the triennium to be allocated by the Australian Commission on Advanced Education to teachers colleges for increasing the number of students training to become teachers of the handicapped.

The Aboriginal people are another group for whom the Australian Government and community cannot fail to have deep concern. My particular responsibility is for the education of Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. I have placed a high priority on the need to upgrade the standard of buildings and associated facilities on missions and settlements where there is a predominantly Aboriginal community. A significant step will be the planning of a community school at Yirrkala in north eastern Arnhem Land. This school will provide the most up-to-date comprehensive educational facilities so far envisaged for an Aboriginal community and will enable educational programs to be provided from preschool to adult levels. I intend to place before the Government a long term program to upgrade the standard of these schools throughout the Northern Territory.

A matter of considerable interest in recent months has been the appointment of the first 14 Aboriginal teachers to the Commonwealth Teaching Service. The Government looks forward to the contribution these teachers will make, not only to the bilingual education program but also to enabling our schools to contribute in a more direct manner to the educational needs of our Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. The Darwin Community College is being assisted to set up courses of teacher education designed to increase the professional qualifications of Aboriginal teachers already appointed and to train other Aboriginal teachers. These courses should commence in 1974.

As a general measure of assistance to Aboriginals in the States and Australian territories, the Government has extended the Aboriginal secondary grants scheme to all children of Aboriginal descent in secondary schools. The number receiving assistance has almost doubled to 9,000 in 1973 and the estimated cost of the scheme in this financial year will be $5. 7m. In addition, grants to assist the extension and improvements of educational facilities for Aboriginals living within the States are made by my colleague, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant), under the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Act. Additional pre-schools, homework centres, teaching materials, in-service courses for teachers, conference and research activities are some of the items resulting from this Australian Government assistance. These grants are to be increased substantially in 1973-74, to a total of $4.6m.

Migrant children are yet another group to be given additional assistance to help overcome their difficulties in school. The incidence of children of migrants from non-English speaking countries was an important element in the criteria adopted by the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission in developing its special program for disadvantaged schools in which it is estimated that $8m will be spent this year. The acute shortage of accommodation for migrant children attending special English classes revealed by a Melbourne survey which I tabled on 5 April, has led the Government, by reversing a decision of the previous Government, to provide funds for accommodation for the child migrant education program. The Government will provide, as an emergency measure, funds over a 2-year period commencing 1 July 1973 for the purchase of demountable classroom accommodation at State and non-government schools for use in the special instruction of migrant children.

An amount of $2m has been included in the 1973-74 Budget. Funds for the second year will be determined after the first year of operation and will be reviewed in the light of other measures of Government financial support for school buildings. The funds for this scheme will be a charge under the child migrant education vote of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) for which the total provided in this year's Budget has risen to more than $10.5m.

Research

Australia lags seriously in the field of educational research. The Government has responded by placing the program of the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education on a triennial basis. A sum of $1.5m will be made available to the end of 1975. This includes $350,000 for the 1973-74 financial year. In addition to awarding grants for research proposals, the Committee will commission larger scale cooperative projects in areas of fundamental importance. The Committee expects also to formulate and sponsor training programs to improve the supply of qualified and experienced research workers.

Curriculum

The Government will provide the basic funding to establish and maintain a curriculum development centre as an independent statutory organisation with its own governing council. The centre will undertake a variety of tasks including the development of teaching and learning materials for use in schools; the support of curriculum and materials development at regional and local levels; publication of assessments and information about equipment and materials from other sources; and the provision of advisory services from outside sources. The centre is expected to provide for any continuing aspects of the Australian science education project such as review and reprints after the present work is completed in March 1974. An amount of $500,000 has been provided towards the establishment of the centre in this financial year, with a projected expenditure of $1.5m over the first 2 financial years. State education authorities are co-operating.

Education in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory

Educational developments in the Australian Government's Territories deserve mention. These systems have continued to respond to rapid growth in population which is occurring both in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. After a long period of co-operation with the States of New South Wales and South Australia, the Australian Government is nearing the point of assuming full responsibility. A schools authority is about to be set up to administer and provide education in the Australian Capital Territory. In the Northern Territory, my Department, through its Northern Territory Division, will administer the system there. The Government's recent decision to place all education in the Northern Territory under the administration of my Department is, I am convinced, a necessary step in achieving balanced development.

International Education

In case it may seem that the Government is concerned only with internal issues in education, I do not wish to let this occasion go by without reference to a new program of awards at the international level, which will extend the support already given, both directly and indirectly, to many thousands of foreign students in Australia. For some years, a number of European governments have provided scholarships of various kinds to enable Australians to study in European universities and other institutions. The Government recognises the importance of continuing and expanding our educational contacts with European countries, and with this in mind has established a scheme which will enable scholars and educators from Europe to visit and study in Australia. The scheme, to be known as the Australian European awards program, should bring the first group of scholars to

Australia for the 1974 academic year. Two types of awards are envisaged - scholarships for postgraduate study at Australian tertiary institutions and fellowships for senior scholars for short-term visits. In a full year of operation, some 20 awards will be made at a cost of $90,000. The provision in the 1973-74 financial year is $25,000. The program will stimulate contacts between Australian and European institutions, and will provide the opportunity for useful discussions and exchanges of knowledge at a high level.

Another important international activity in education in which this Government participates fully is the scheme of Commonwealth co-operation in education. The provision for this scheme in the Budget for 1973-74 is $l.lm which will be used to support visits by senior educators from other Commonwealth countries, awards for academic training and practical experience in education in Australia, as well as the provision of Australian consultants to assist the advancement of education in developing Commonwealth countries.

Conclusion

I have not attempted in my statement to deal with all the initiatives taken by this Government which have contributed to a reallocation of resources to education. The programs I have outlined demonstrate the Government's resolve to transform accessibility to all sectors of education especially for those Australians whose educational and social opportunities are most seriously limited at present. This was the purpose of planning to make university, college of advanced education and technical education free. It is the purpose behind increasing living allowances for tertiary students and liberalising the means test in respect of those allowances. It explains why Aboriginal secondary education grants have been extended to all Aboriginal children at secondary level and why grants have been established for isolated children and extended to isolated children who have handicaps or who want to undergo a form of technical education in the equivalent of the last 2 years of high school. It is the reason why certain Aboriginal schools will be conducting elementary education in the vernacular. It is the reason why grants will be made to cases of students suffering hardship for the last 2 years of secondary education. In this our first Budget, we have demonstrated in positive terms a determination to remove barriers to effective educational opportunity for Australians and we are determined to give education a continuing high priority in the distribution of resources.

I present the following paper:

Government Initiatives in Education - Ministerial Statement, 23 August 1973.

Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.







Suggest corrections