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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1413

Mr DUTHIE (WILMOT, TASMANIA) - I ask the Minister for Education: What amount has been allocated to country areas in the Australian States under the isolated children's allowance scheme instituted by this Government a few months ago? Will this expenditure of Federal money remove many of the worst disadvantages suffered by country children who seek to fit themselves for a wider range of careers in the country or in the cities?

Mr BEAZLEY (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Education) - Firstly I would like to say to the honourable member that the isolated children's scheme is undergoing assessment at the present time by officers of the Australian Government's Department of Education and the various State governments. About 11,100 families are receiving assistance under the isolated childern's scheme and this involves about 15,500 children. Of the 15,500 children concerned, about 1,500 are doing correspondence work at home and 14,000 are boarding. Of the 11,100 families receiving assistance, about 4,223 families, or 40 per cent, are receiving more than the basic $350. They are getting up to $700. The Australian Government's Department of Education has sent circulars to about 2,800 families indicating that possibly they are entitled to the further additional assistance of $304 for secondary students or $200 for primary students beyond the $700. About $9.5m is the estimate of the expenditure in this field in the present financial year. I point out to the honourable gentlemen that that sum is in the Budget.

As far as children doing correspondence work are concerned in my statement on the Government's initiativies in education I drew attention to the fact that under an international agreement there is to be a change of transceiver. That change is required by December 1977. The Australian Government at present is allocating $100,000 a year to enable families on correspondence who use transceivers to turn over to the new transceiver. The scheme includes reimbursement for those who hire transceivers and do not desire to buy them. This has had important effects in rural districts. I think it is of interest to know that Tasmania has more claimants than has South Australia, for instance, and Tasmania, possibly because of the relatively depressed condition of the fruit industry, is receiving a somewhat higher proportion of the additional grants to assist the children in that State to go and board in order to get an education.

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