Bills Digest No. 20  1998-99 States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Amendment Bill 1998


Numerical Index | Alphabetical Index

WARNING:
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

CONTENTS

Passage History
Purpose of Legislation
Background
Basis of policy commitment
Main Provisions
Concluding Comments
Endnotes
Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Passage History

States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Amendment Bill 1998

Date Introduced: 11 November 1998

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Education, Training and Youth Affairs

Commencement: On Royal Assent.

Purpose of Legislation

This Bill provides for a number of amendments to the States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Act 1996 (the Act). The main ones provide:

  • $21 million for the introduction of Full Service Schools program over three years from 1998 and
  • $40.2 million for the extension of the National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools (NALSAS) strategy.

Background

This Bill was originally introduced on 25 June 1998 but lapsed when Parliament was prorogued on 31 August 1998. It is now being reintroduced with minor monetary changes reflecting cost supplementation.

The Bill gives effect to initiatives announced in the 1998-99 Budget. These include the introduction of Youth Allowance - a major new social policy reform of income support, which began on 1 July 1998.

Youth Allowance is aimed at encouraging young people under 18 years to complete their schooling, or if they leave school early, to move on to further training or employment.

In order to receive the Youth Allowance from January 1999, eligible young people under 18 years who have not completed Year 12 or equivalent must be in full-time education or training unless specifically exempted.

Basis of policy commitment

Full Service Schools

The Commonwealth has established the Full Service Schools program in order to cover additional costs associated with the Youth Allowance initiative. Funding for the program aims to address the specific needs of young people returning to school following changes to the Youth Allowance and for current students who are at risk of not completing Year 12, or making a successful transition from school to work. The Program will target students who are not likely to benefit from mainstream learning pathways. Funds will be directed towards:

  • the employment of specialist teachers or counsellors
  • providing professional development for teachers and other staff
  • delivering and developing special courses associated with pre-vocational education or training, and
  • assisting students to access government and community support services.

Funding will be provided to schools in areas with the highest numbers of young people affected by the implementation of the Youth Allowance.

Steering Committees will manage the implementation of the Full Service Schools program in each State and Territory.(1)

NALSAS

The NALSAS Strategy is a cooperative initiative between Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. The Strategy assists government and non-government schools to improve participation and proficiency levels in four targeted Asian languages. They are:

  • Japanese
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Indonesian, and
  • Korean.

The major collaborative activities are in three broad areas. They are:

  • professional development for teachers
  • development of proficiency outcomes for students and teachers, and
  • curriculum materials.

The strategy also introduces or increases Asian studies content across the curriculum in order to improve Australia's capacity and preparedness to interact with key Asian economies.

The 1998-99 Budget provided for funds of $40.2 million to take the NALSAS program through to the end of 1999. This extra funding aims to provide continued support to teachers and students. Commonwealth funding is matched by States and Territories.

Additional Amendments

The Bill also contains provisions which:

  • change the funding schedules for Literacy and Country Areas programs for 1999 and 2000
  • from 1999, enable the Minister to vary funding provided to education authorities under the Literacy and Country Areas programs(2)
  • change funding schedules to insert amounts of capital funding for 2001, 2002 and 2003(3)
  • vary the amounts of 1997 and 1998 recurrent and capital grants in respect of the 1997 and 1998 supplementation and provide for its flow on effects for 1999 and 2000
  • rectify an inadvertent omission in the Act to provide for grants for expenditure on special education services to be provided under the legislation
  • incorporate a technical amendment to define the role of the Governor-General in making regulations under the Act, and
  • incorporate a minor stylistic change to the format of the Act.

 

Main Provisions

Clause 7 adds to the provisions relating to grants to meet special learning needs. This clause provides for funding for projects to assist students who return to school because of the introduction of the youth allowance and to assist students to complete senior secondary education and to make a successful transition from school to training, further education or employment.

Clause 10 updates funding amounts for students with disabilities attending government schools from 1997 initial prices to 1998 final prices.

Clause 11 clarifies the full range of special education services able to be supported under the Act and in particular ensures that grants to non-government centres are not limited to special education activities conducted at non-government centres.

Clauses 12 and 13 updates funding amounts for recurrent expenditure on education in English as a second language for eligible new arrivals.

Clause 15 inserts a new section 76A to allow the Minister to approve projects under the Full Service Schools program which provides additional funding for schools, industry and community groups to assist in alleviating the concerns of parents, the community and young people following the introduction of the youth allowance.

Clauses 16-18 provides that the Minister rather than the Governor-General is responsible for determining cost supplementation amounts prior to the Governor-General making a regulation under section 78.

Clause 20 makes changes to the cost supplementation to reflect the introduction of the Full Service Schools program by Clause 15.

Clause 21 inserts a new section 78A to allow the Minister to make a determination during a program year varying some or all of the amounts of the Grants Under the Literacy Program. The amounts are set out in Schedule 6.

Clause 23 inserts new subsections 79(2A) and (2B) to allow the Minister to make a determination during a program year varying some or all of the amounts of the Grants Under the Country Areas Program. The amounts are set out in Schedule 8.

Clause 24 amends the tables in Schedules 1-8 to update all legislated funding amounts from 1997 initial prices to 1998 initial prices. This clause also inserts a new Column 7 in Schedule 8 to reflect the introduction of the Full Service Schools Program.

Clause 25 inserts a new definition of 'youth allowance' for the purposes of the Full Service Schools Program. Qualification for youth allowance is set out in Part 2.11 of the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Youth Allowance) Act 1998.

Concluding Comments

Estimates on the number of young people likely to either stay at or return to school because of the Youth Allowance requirements vary considerably. In August 1997 the increase in student numbers was placed between 25 000 to 27 000.(4) In May 1998 a press release issued by the former Shadow Minister for Education and Youth Affairs stated that a Cabinet submission had recommended expenditure of $140 million to compensate schools for this increase.(5) Official estimates have since been revised dramatically downwards with a current figure of 8 200 now being mooted.(6) The current proposal to allocate $21 million over three years for the Full Service Schools program signifies a sharp contrast with the figures quoted in the alleged Cabinet submission.

In Victoria, a recent State Government report estimates that 6 000 young people will be required to return to some form of education or training in that State alone.(7) The report projects an immediate increase in 1999 of between 1 350 and 4 700 students staying at school with a further 1 000 to 4 000 who may be required to return to school.(8)

Although the likely impact on schools generally is difficult to predict, it may be reasonable to assume that a disproportionate burden will fall on those schools in areas of high unemployment.

There is evidence that new policy initiatives like the Full Service Schools program and the Youth Allowance may adversely affect the teaching profession. Low morale, the attractiveness and, ultimately, the status of the teaching profession has recently been considered in a report by the Senate Inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession.(9) Evidence presented to the inquiry revealed concerns about the increasing pressures on schools and on individual teachers in particular. The Inquiry's report remarked that many teachers have identified relentless change as a key contributor to the sense of crisis infecting the profession.(10) More recently, a report commissioned by the Australian Council of Deans of Education predicts supply for primary teachers will drop from 89 per cent of demand in 1999 to 81 per cent of demand in 2004. A greater shortfall is expected for secondary teachers in 1999. Supply is expected to be only 75 per cent of demand with an ultimate projection of 66 per cent for the year 2004.(11)

Endnotes

  1. State and Territory Steering Committees will consist of representatives of government and non-government education authorities, the Commonwealth, principals' organisations and parent groups.

  2. Education authorities include those from State and Territory government and non-government sectors.

  3. Capital funding relates to government and non-government schools.

  4. Australia. Senate. Employment, Education and Training Legislation Committee, Hansard, 18 August 1997, p.19.

  5. Australia. Shadow Minister for Education and Youth Affairs (Mr M. Latham), 'Budget short changes schools,' Media release, 13 May 1998.

  6. Special Education Section, Literacy and Special Programs Branch, Schools Division, DETYA. The figure is an agreed figure between DETYA, the former DSS and Centrelink.

  7. Dwyer, Peter et al., Negotiating staying and returning: young people's perspective's on schooling and the youth allowance, Dept. of Education, Victoria, 1998, p. 27.

  8. Ibid., p. 29.

  9. Senate Employment, Education and Training References Committee, A Class Act: Inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession, The Senate, March 1998, p.8.

  10. Ibid., Chapter 5, pp 95-105.

  11. Preston, Barbara, Teacher supply and demand to 2004: updated projections, Australian Council of Deans Education, Canberra, 1998, p.3.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Ross Kilmurray
Marilyn Harrington
23 November1998
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services (IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members
and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1328-8091
© Commonwealth of Australia 1998

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1998.

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