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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 612


Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - by leave - I wish to inform the Senate of the measures by which effect will be given to the Government's announced policy of placing increasing emphasis on migrant counselling and selection and migrant education and welfare services.

MIGRANT COUNSELLING AND SELECTION

In counselling migrants prior to their arrival in Australia, important new measures are planned. Specialist immigration officers are proposed for major migration posts overseas. Individual and group counselling will be given to better prepare migrants for life in their new country. A new migrant assessment system will be introduced. Work on this is already well advanced. The purpose of this system is to facilitate an objective assessment of prospective migrants in each of several crucial respects. It draws on past Australian experience and that of other migrant-receiving countries. It does not attempt to transplant the Canadian system into the Australian situation; nor will it be, in the Canadian sense, a cumulative points system. It will evaluate separately each key factor bearing on migrants' socio-economic prospects in Australia. This will be mutually beneficial both to migrants who have yet to come here and to the Australian community generally. For migrants already here, the emphasis in the Budget on English language training facilities and migrant welfare services is of immediate importance.

MIGRANT EDUCATION

As our migrant education programmes have gained momentum, there has been a corresponding increase in the funds provided for this purpose. Prior to 1970. expenditure on migrant education amounted to some $1m annually. In 1970-72, the first full year after a major expansion in these services was announced, expenditure increased to $3,875,000. Last financial year, it rose to $6,275,624 and a further increase is proposed for this financial year. The Budget accordingly provides for the expenditure of $9,225,000 on migrant education services this year, an increase of 44 per cent over the amount expended in 1971-72. This represents an increase of services are: The child migrant education programme; the adult migrant education programme; full time intensive English language courses; and pre-embarkation and shipboard instruction.

THE CHILD MIGRANT EDUCATION PROGRAMME

A total of $4,889,000 is provided in the Budget for the child migrant education programme for 1972-73 compared with an expenditure of $3,263,737 in 1971-72. This represents an increase of 50 per cent. This programme has gathered considerable momentum during the past 2 years. At the end of 1969-70 there were 8,800 migrant children in special classes. In 1970-71 there were 21,000. In 1971-72 there were 34,000. This year we expect 40,000 migrant children to be enrolled in these special classes. The number of schools receiving direct assistance under the child migrant education programme has also increased greatly. At the end of 1969-70 there were 199 schools receiving assistance. In 1970-71 the number rose to 440 and in 1971-72 it again increased sharply to a total of 707. This financial year we expect the number of schools receiving assistance to reach 808.

The number of special teachers whose salaries are paid by the Department of Immigration has risen in a similar manner. At the end of 1969-70 there were 246 of these special teachers. In 1970-71 their numbers rose to 546 and in 1971-72 to 903. In 1972-73 we expect that almost 1,000 special teachers will be financed by the Department of Immigration. About twothirds of these are expected to be working on a full time basis.

ADULT MIGRANT EDUCATION PROGRAMME

A total of $2,940,000 is provided in the Budget for the adult migrant education programme for 1972-73, compared with an expenditure of $2,114,334 in 1971-72. This represents an increase of 39 per cent. The major part of this increase results from the decision by the Government to pay living allowances to migrants attending accelerated courses on a full time basis. These full time, accelerated courses will be of 10 weeks duration, and will involve at least 6 hours instruction daily, 5 days a week. The transfer in emphasis to accelerated and more specialised forms of instruction will help migrants reach, much more quickly than otherwise would be possible, a proficiency in English which will permit the fullest use of their qualifications and experience.

There will also be an increase in the number of part time accelerated courses for those migrants able to attend morning, afternoon or evening classes. Full time and part time accelerated courses will be in addition to the full time intensive courses, which are also being expanded. Special consideration is also being given to the needs of migrant workers in industry. A 6-weeks course, specifically designed for this purpose, has been developed and tested in selected factories. The co-operation of employers in this pilot project has been most encouraging, and part of the course has been given in normal working hours. It is intended to introduce this course for migrant workers in industry progressively in all States.

FULL TIME INTENSIVE ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSES

a total of $1,297,000 is provided in the Budget for full time intensive English language courses, compared with an expenditure of $859,607 in 1971-72. This represents an increase of more than 50 per cent. The number of centres for full time intensive courses - located in all States and the Australian Capital Territory - will be increased from 12 to 17, and their annual capacity raised from 1,585 to 2,170. A survey of the results of these full time intensive courses has been carried out. The results have confirmed our expectation that they are highly successful in improving the social and economic prospects of the migrants completing them and are, in consequence, also to the advantage of the community generally.

MIGRANT EDUCATION CENTRES

Amongst the other important measures proposed this year is the development of migrant education centres in all capital cities. These will provide a focal point for migrant education in each State. They will include facilities for full time intensive courses, accelerated courses and classes for special groups - for example, migrant women and adolescents. In addition, education centres are being developed in 8 of the 14 hostel complexes now operating. These provide day and evening classes for migrant men and women, as well as intensive instruction for migrant children in courses of up to 12 weeks duration before they go into the normal school system.

PRE-EMBARKATION AND SHIPBOARD INSTRUCTION

An amount of $99,000 is provided for pre-embarkation and shipboard instruction this year, compared with an expenditure of $37,945 last financial year. The additional funds will be used for the development of pre-embarkation English language training and orientation instruction in France, Scandinavia, Yugoslavia and Turkey. Shipboard services will be maintained and continuity established with the on-going programme in Australia. This does not represent our total commitment in the field of re-embarkation English language training. More than $150,000 of our annual contribution to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration is specifically earmarked for migrant training services. The ICEM is responsible on behalf of the Department of Immigration for the language training programme in Greece, Italy, Germany and Australia and, to a more limited extent, in Malta, Belgium and the Netherlands.

MIGRANT WELFARE SERVICES

As the well-being of migrants must be a paramount consideration, migrant welfare services are being expanded. The Budget provides for grants totalling $334,600 to community agencies involved in integration activities. This represents an increase of 45 per cent over payments made to community agencies last financial year, when $230,982 was expended. The increase in the number of grants to voluntary welfare agencies will allow for an expansion of community social worker services to migrants which are, of course, additional to the social worker and welfare officer services of the Department of Immigration. To inform recently arrived migrants more fully concerning the welfare services and other facilities available to them, a specialist counselling service is proposed. This will enable visits to the home, to the work place and to the schools by members of a special team of trained welfare officers and interpreters. These services will be directed to the various ethnic groups in co-operation with the community agencies engaged in migrant welfare. lt is also proposed to extend the normal integration services to meet the special requirements of migrant children. Our intention here is that bilingual or multilingual officers trained in welfare work be attached, by arrangement with State and other education authorities, to schools or groups of schools in which there are significant numbers of migrants. Their purpose will be to help with enrolments, to assist migrant children to adapt to a new culture, to eliminate problems of communication, and generally to assist liaison between the school and the migrant home. It is proposed to provide this service in State capitals and major provincial cities with substantial migrant populations. In addition, we shall seek to introduce a social orientation and language programme to prepare pre-school age migrant children for entry into primary school. Initially, these courses will be associated with child minding centres at migrant hostels.

The Budget also provides for increased financial support for the Good Neighbour Councils. The successful integration of migrants reflects to a very large extent their sustained and nation wide activities. Accordingly, payments to Good Neighbour Councils will be increased from $525,123 in 1971-72 to $620,000 this financial year. Amongst the other measures provided for in the Budget, considerable thought has been given to the subject of interpreter services for migrants. In addition to existing interpreter services provided by the Department of Immigration, an 'on call' telephone interpreter service will be introduced. This will provide a 24-hour service for urgent community needs. It will cover the languages which experience has shown involve the greatest problems of communication.

In summary, the Budget provides for the expenditure of $ 10.2m on migrant education and welfare services during the current financial year, compared with $7m in 1971-72. This represents an increase of $3. 2m or 46 per cent and is impressive evidence of the importance which the Government attaches to these matters. It is less than years since the then Minister for Immigration announced, on 23rd April 1970, a migrant education programme to cost $16m spread over 4 years. The rate at which we have been able to develop this programme has, however, considerably exceeded our original expectations. We intend to maintain this momentum. In scope and content, and in flexibility and willingness to innovate, the Government's migrant education and integration services have become a significant instrument of social and economic policy. The further measures provided for in the Budget, which I have just outlined, are of obvious and direct importance to Australia's very considerable migrant community. This alone would be sufficient to justify them. But I wish also to stress that the whole community - not only migrants - will benefit both directly and indirectly. The further economic and social gains which will flow from this constitute a substantial further inducement, should any be needed, for the strongest possible support for our policies from all sections of the community. I present the following paper:

Migrant Education and Welfare Services - Ministerial Statement, 31st August 1972.







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