Parliamentary record : Part I debates (11 November 1986)
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
Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 11 November 1986 Apart from capital grants, there has been no significant funding of Aboriginal education in the Territory by the federal Department of Education. We can only hope when the Department of Aboriginal Affairs education funding is transferred to the federal Department of Education, that the Territory may receive its fair share at last. I would like to know where the department's funds are actually spent. That would be interesting. The member for MacDonnell may like to find that out from his federal colleague. Because of budgetary constraints, the Department of Education has had to ensure that the staffing formula is strictly enforced. Nevertheless, the Northern Territory is still in a reasonable position compared to the rest of Australia. Our stafftng levels in primary schools are equal to the best in Australia. The levels in secondary schools are marginally the best in the country and overall we have the best staffing levels for Aboriginal schools funded from state resources. The budget will also provide for significant capital works programs this financial year. A total of $21.6m has been allocated for work on 17 schools, and we will spend a further $1.8m on technical and further education facilities as well as $1.4m on teacher housing. The federal government has allocated $2.3m for the establishment or upgrading of 15 Aboriginal schools and the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission will provide an additional $14.2m for capital works on further education facilities. The capital works program will total more than $41m this financial year. This will provide for a significant upgrading of established facilities as well as the construction of new facilities throughout the Territory. There is, for example, an allocation of $13.5m for the new Katherine East High School. There is $1.8m for stage 2 of Sanderson High School and a permanent school will be built at Berry Springs at a cost of more than $l.lm. Tennant Creek Primary School will be upgraded at a cost of $250 000. More than $450 000 will be spent on the Driver District Centre, and there will be work done at Gapuwiyak, Milingimbi, Humpty 000 and Papunya. These are just a few of the projects that the government will undertake this year in order to keep pace with the education sector. They illustrate the commitment that has made our facilities amongst the best in Australia. A number of new programs have been introduced by the department this financial year. These include 49 new teacher scholarships to be offered next year, a grant to Marrara Christian School to provide extra assistance for Down's Syndrome students, and a new repair and maintenance program for school computers. In fact, there has been a major increase in repairs and maintenance funding from $5.7m last financial year to $8.2m this year. Unfortunately, we have not been able to make these efforts without some reductions in other areas, and the brunt of these cuts has been borne by the unskilled sections of the department. To put it bluntly, we are now running a very lean operation. If anybody is thinking of questioning the efficiency of the Department of Education, I would like him to consider that, since 1979, enrolments in schools and TAFE courses have increased by 25% whilst, in the same period, numbers of head office and administrative staff have been reduced by 20%. The TAFE section is 1 area that has been extensively reviewed to ensure that it is as effective as possible. In some cases, we have been forced to stop TAFE institutions from offering courses which have been attracting very few students and have therefore become very uneconomical. However, this will be more than balanced by the new TAFE Open College which, through 828
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