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Wednesday, 13 September 1972
Page: 786

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - I am prompted to enter this debate because of the remarks of Senator Jessop. I have received correspondence from the Isolated Children's Parents Association which caters for outback children, mostly those in Queensland. I visited the school at Katherine in the Northern Territory where a paid tutor was employed to educate the children. I watched an entire lesson during which he asked questions and received replies from the children for which he allocated marks. Other than the lack of visual aids, the lesson was similar to the lesson any child would have in an ordinary school. I recognise that children in such places spend only a small part of their time undergoing education and that there could be some children who could not participate in the class every day because of flat batteries in their wirelesses. They had some method of informing the tutor that they would be absent. These are some of the problems that have to be faced. I would say that in South Australia we do not have as great a remote area problem as there is in the Northern Territory, north-west Western Australia or north Queensland.

Senator Jessop - What about Oodnadatta?

Senator CAVANAGH - There is a State school at Oodnadatta which children can attend. There is no better State Government in the Commonwealth than the South Australian Government in regard to planning and building schools. I refer not only to building schools in small localities. South Australia has more facilities for outback children than has any other State. There is a problem in places like Yunta although I believe that it at least has a primary school. There are problems, however, at places like Deakin on the east-west railway where the State Government provides area buses, if possible, to convey children from their homes to an area school up to 30 miles away. The children return to their homes each day. I do not doubt that there are still some isolated children who deserve consideration. We cannot enter into party politics when considering this matter but no government has done more for outback children than has the South Australian government, and I refer not only to the present Labor Government in that State. I think that South Australia has been far ahead of other States in this respect.

I support this matter being referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts because so many people have suggested that finance is the solution to this problem. Such suggestions have come from, f think, Senator Jessop and Senator Lawrie. Of course, it is essential that people who have to send their children to hostels and boarding schools should receive financial assistance. I do not know whether that is the most desirable form of education. I have been greatly impressed by those who claim that education is not limited to what one learns in the 4 walls of a classroom but is a continuing process, and both home life and school life are part of the education process. I recognise, particularly as I come from South Australia, that there are areas where there is a great problem and, therefore, I support the move to have this matter considered by the Senate Standing Committee in an effort to find a solution. 1 hope that not too much emphasis will be placed on the question of financial aid. There are other problems to be considered. 1 rose mainly to oppose any attempt to denigrate South Australia's effort to overcome this problem. That would be an incorrect interpretation of what has happened in that State.

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