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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 560 ..



The question of training is addressed in the fourth recommendation. This was also an important part of the inquiry. While work for the dole is not a traineeship, the question has to be asked: "If it is not a traineeship, where is it appropriate to be used?". That was one of the fundamental questions which came out of submissions. Is it appropriate to put untrained people into primary schools? What will the impact be upon existing staff? What will the impact be on the participants? What will the impact be on the students? Will it work?

Much of the evidence which came to the committee raised serious concerns about this, and once again the department's assertions were not adequately reassuring. For example, the capacity for on-the-job training was challenged by both teachers and other stakeholders. The lack of any accredited training was questioned by youth advocates, and the opportunities for training away from the workplace, as suggested were there at the O'Connell Education Centre by the department, are quite limited. Janitors were concerned that they did not have the skills to train participants, and these concerns were also expressed by administration staff. The committee has recommended that the training component must be reviewed so as to provide some accredited training. Schools should be resourced to provide on-the-job training and the per capita budget increased accordingly.

The fifth recommendation deals with how the applicants are supported in the workplace. Interestingly, there has been a similar program before in the ACT, the LEO program - the literacy enhancement officer program. However, this project was much better supported than the work for the dole scheme in terms of training and support. Even this project, with its greater support, when evaluated, was shown to be lacking, and some participants and support personnel found it a negative experience. The Minister has incorrectly used this project as an example of how the Government has successfully run such schemes before. It was quite a different scheme.

The original proposal also said that school counsellors would be available to support participants in this project, but this was withdrawn as our committee progressed and it became clear the proposal was unacceptable to many stakeholders. This is another example of how inadequate the department's proposal was. The committee has recommended that support needs must be reassessed and revised, and funding arrangements be negotiated with the Commonwealth to ensure that support is adequate.

The final recommendation of the report is that unless these previous three recommendations - that is, about selection processes, training and support - are implemented, the department must withdraw from the project. The majority of the committee clearly can say that the proposal was poorly thought out. Initially it even included after-school care programs. This was removed when it was realised that the P&C administer most after school-care programs and the department has no control. How can you have any confidence in this proposal when something as basic as that was overlooked?

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