Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 27 November 2002

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Parliamentary Record 9


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 27 November 2002 transported by teachers either by off-road vehicles or light aircraft on a weekly and/or fortnightly basis. Many mothers and grandmothers and younger siblings are attending mobile preschool sites. The obvious benefit of this wider community involvement in the delivery of pre-schooling experiences can not be overstated. Although two year olds and younger are not enrolled in the program, they are attending and enjoying being read to, and playing with the assortment of play learning equipment on offer. It is the governments hope that at each mobile preschool pilot cluster site, sufficient numbers of children will enrol and attend so that the DEET staffing formula will automatically provide for the staff currently being paid for through the pilot initiative. As the staffing formula kicks in, the pilot locations will move to other remote areas of the Northern Territory. Early indications are that attendance is sufficient and plans are being made for new mobile preschool sites to be established in Central Australia. Mobile preschools are one of the most innovative and practical solutions to a major deficit in infrastructure in the rural areas and the challenge of distance in remote Northern Territory. It is a great initiative and another example of the fact that our government views education as its first priority. Mr MILLS (Blain): Madam Speaker, this is a good initiative and I wish the pilot program well. I am interested to hear a little bit more about it. The word infrastructure was used. An aspect of this that I did not hear, which I would like to hear, is that in order for a preschool child to take the full benefit of this initiative, there needs to be a very strong aspect of working with the parents so that as the mobile unit moves off, there is something residing within that community to support that which has occurred in the community and sustain it so that next time the mobile unit returns, the activity will be added to. I would like to see that aspect explored. Perhaps it is already included in the initiative. It was not referred to in the statement. The professional development, of course, is going to be the critical aspect of this. As a pilot program, it will receive the support and recognition of educationalists because preschool really is the key. The comprehensive nature of the professional development and the sustaining of that will make it successful rather than just an innovative program that we are able to tell everyone about and get excited about. We do need to see some results in this. I am sure the intent of the initiative is to achieve those results, but professional development and parental support is critical. I am curious to know, though, about the provision of essential services, such as will it carry water and provide adequate support, as have in a couple of cases been alerted to me by my colleague, the member for Macdonnell. Two schools in remote areas, Areyonga and Red Sand Hill, do not currently have an adequate supply of water. I am sure this will be addressed as the pilot scheme travels around the country side to make sure that the young students have adequate supplies of water, as they are not enjoying at Areyonga and Red Sand Hill. Mr STIRLING (Employment, Education and Training): I thank the member for Blain for his support, Madam Speaker. In relation to the program itself, it is mobile, it visits the community; we simply do not have the financial resources available to build preschools in all of these communities. That is why we are trying to address this issue by using these mobile visits. Professional development is provided to the locally recruited staff by DEET early childhood officers, so there is skill development there with the local people that, albeit the mobile preschools move on and will be back the next week or fortnightly visits, whichever the case is. So there would be some scope for some ongoing program. In relation to the situation at Areyonga, Red Sand Hill, and Urapunga; these questions about water have been drifting in the media and that somehow DEET is the agency responsible for all infrastructure in remote communities. That is simply not the case. DEET, as an agency responsible for education service delivery, is extremely concerned when it cannot deliver that service because of infrastructure problems. However, let us get away from the fact that DEET somehow has to wear responsibility for all these infrastructures. Madam SPEAKER: Your time has expired. Mr Elferink: What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to deliver education in these schools? This was your primary thing. This is how you were going to save the world. Mr STIRLING: When did you ever raise it? It is your negligence! The local member and you never raised it once! Never raised it once with the CLP! Mr Elferink: Rubbish! You should get off your bum and go and fix it, man. Rubbish, Syd. Build it in the spirit of Christmas. Mr Burke: Merry Christmas, Syd! Mr STIRLING: Never raised it; you are not doing your job. Mr Elferink: Scrooge! Bah humbug, he says. 3035