Parliamentary record : Part I debates (19 November 1985)
Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 19 November 1985 Education. Another one he referred to was the Commonwealth Schools Commission and National Aboriginal Education Committee working party. I have not seen terms of reference for these joint working parties. However, I am sure that the minister, knowing the interest of members on this side of the Assembly, will undertake to provide us with copies of those terms of reference so that we can make submissions on the matter of education on outstations. As the minister says, the numbers of outstations have doubled in the last 7 years. I recall talking to public servants and members of the Northern Territory and federal governments in 1978. I asked about their policies in relation to water supply and health and was told that the outstation movement was a short-term phenomenon. Now, 7 years later, we still have no clearly-defined policies. We still appear to be groping in the dark. This is a most unfortunate situation. I would like to ask what the minister refers to when he talks about outstations. Does he, for example, include cattle station communities? Is he referring also to excisions on pastoral properties? Or is he simply referring to small communities or, indeed, any community which has no school? Have they now been defined as outstations and are they therefore only to get an outstation school of the low standard he describes? I would certainly like a clearer examination of the particular problems. For example, there are outstations - which the minister has referred to - where, during the wet season, the people return to the central community. This is not the situation in central Australia and it is certainly not general right throughout the Top End. There are many places where there are more than 15 students. I believe that these places should be able to apply for a normal I-teacher school. At the moment, there are many communities with more than 15 students which just do not have a school of their own at all. There are some outstations with less than 15 school-age children who are close enough together for it to be possible to develop a one-teacher school. However, I would like the department to resist the temptation to pull in school-age children from 50 to 60 km away for a joint school simply because the department feels more comfortable with area schools rather than the smaller single-teacher schools closer to the outstations. There are genuine outstation schools. I simply put it to him that I do not believe that he has clarified in his statement just what it is he is referring to. I would like to talk a little about Aboriginal teachers and teacher aides. The minister said that there will be a further 43 Aboriginal assistant teachers for outstations. I would like it to be made very clear that the increase in numbers for the Aboriginal assistant teachers for outstations will not be effected by a similar reduction in the number of assistant teachers in central schools. As the minister knows, in a previous debate in this A~sembly, I put it to him that, since his government took over education in the Territory, the numbers of Aboriginal assistant teachers have declined by two-thirds. That in itself is an appalling situation and an indictment of this government's commitment towards Aboriginal education. However, it does give me reason to question his genuineness. He has stated that there will be a further 43 Aboriginal assistant teachers. I am sure that he will tell me that there will be no more offsetting. However, if it is to improve, there must be changes. For example, there must be a commitment to provide an Aboriginal assistant teacher in every Aboriginal class. At the moment, there is not even an Aboriginal assistant teacher in each of the classes in the bilingual schools, as the minister knows. There must be far greater emphasis on the RATE program. We need teachers in the schools to oversee the program 1806
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