Congress declares everyone has the right to education and it is the obligation of the Commonwealth and States in cooperation, to provide a universal, free, compulsory, secular system of education open to all citizens.
Education should be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It should promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all peoples.
Congress recognises there are few issues of such national importance in our community as the future role of education.
Congress, therefore, declares that the development and maintenance of an effective system of education depends upon an adequate level of funding by the Australian Government in co-operation with the State Governments. State Governments must continue to support schools and Technical and Further Education with funding at or above the levels indicated by the relevant Commissions.
The Australian Government has a responsibility to fund education on the principle of need and equal access, with the aim of bringing all schools to an acceptable standard in the shortest time. The Government should make its funding decisions on the basis of the recommendations, on needs and priorities, of the independent statutory body, the Schools Commission. The Fraser/Anthony Government has not adhered to these principles. In particular, Congress condemns the squandering on wealthy schools of funds which are desperately needed by disadvantaged schools.
The abandoning by the Fraser/Anthony Government of the five-year funding programme recommended by the Schools Commission and the two and a half year programme recommended by the Technical and Further Education Commission has resulted in Commonwealth funding in 1977 falling 35% below the recommended level in the case of schools and some 60% in the case of Technical and Further Education.
(Paragraphs 2 & 3 from 1971 Decision)
Congress calls upon the Australian Government
(i) To provide growth factors for 1978 which will enable substantial progress towards the achieving of minimum acceptable standards for resources and facilities in schools and other educational institutions.
(ii) To withdraw its prescriptive guidelines to the Commissions.
(iii) To reinstate the fixed triennium.
(iv) To reinstate full cost supplementation for building and operational costs.
(v) To provide adequate revenue grants on the basis of the need to enable equality of access to education, with special reference to the needs of handicapped and migrant children.
Technical and Further Education
Congress recognises that Technical and Further Education is a particularly disadvantaged area of education in Australia.
Years of neglect have left this system unable to cope with the demands of training young people in a situation of very high unemployment. (1977 Decision)
Congress condemns the Australian Government for its failure to acknowledge the substantial needs of Technical and Further Education throughout Australia and to allocate sufficient funds to meet those needs.
Congress expresses grave concern at the ability of Australia to produce sufficient numbers of adequately skilled workers unless the Australian Government takes immediate action to fund TAFE commensurate with the recommendations in the May, 1975, TAFE Report.
Congress deplores the pressure for cuts in educational expenditure which are emanating largely from commercial and industrial interest and conservative economic forces.
Congress believes that the qreatest investment that the nation cat make is in its own children. (1975 Decision)
Congress believes that the TAFE programmes provide the major avenue for workers to obtain greater skills and expertise and hence is of the opinion that this field of education should receive the same status and assistance as other tertiary fields which cater for a much smaller and more privileged section of the community. (1975 Decision)
The smaller States are disadvantaged by the method of disbursements since they have to provide for the same range of technical subjects to be taught as any other State in an attempt to meet the same standards.
Provision be made in Technical Education courses for subjects which will enable participants, in addition to achieving technical competence, to take their place in society as better citizens. (1973 Decision)
Continuing high levels of unemployment and the need for retraining due to technological change highlight the need to make life-long or recurrent education available to all Australians.
Congress urges the Australian Government to establish a combined Government/Employer/Trade Union Committee to examine all of the aspects of life-long education opportunities for Australians. (1977 Decision)
The Commonwealth to establish an open university and an open institute of tertiary education which will accept students whatever their academic qualifications and utilise the techniques of radio, television and correspondence courses.
Congress recognises that it is essential that workers as a result of advanced planning which provides opportunities for training and retraining are able to respond to changes in the structure of the economy. The education system must play its part in this task, particularly in recognising changes in the demand for various types of qualified labour.
That Governments have not allowed this to occur is shown, for instance, in the surplus, and consequent unemployment, of university graduates in many fields, while there are serious deficiencies in the availability of apprenticeship training and all forms of pre-employment training. Congress, therefore, calls for educational planning to be incorporated into a national economic and social plan as an important part of the attack on unemployment. (1977 Decision)
Congress condemns the attitude of the Fraser Government, which having in Opposition supported the concept of publicly funded trade union training, is now trying to destroy the concept by severe financial cutbacks and suggesting through the establishment of a Committee of Enquiry the destruction of the autonomy of the TUTA.
Congress reaffirms the view that the interests of Australia and the rights of unions place an obligation upon the Australian Government to continue to financially contribute to trade union training in Australia.
Trade union training should be seen as a special training area for unionists to learn about their own industrial conditions and the trade union movement and its relation to the community. It should not be viewed as just another form of education and, therefore, should not be grouped in the general education sector.
The ACTU commends the TUTA for its work which has won acceptance and approval from all sections of the trade union movement.
Employers and Governments should grant paid time off to union members attending Trade Union Training Authority and union conducted or endorsed courses.
Congress commends affiliates, which have already by agreement achieved this objective, and calls upon all affiliates and ACTU State branches to support an ACTU sponsored test case to achieve this as an award right.
Congress reaffirms its previous calls for further attention to the educational needs of children and adults amongst disadvantaged groups for whom the Government is providing assistance, such as programmes for Aboriginals, migrants, the physically, mentally and socially handicapped, those in poverty, etc. The assessment of such educational needs should encompass the family as well as the individual, so that domestic, cultural and social factors are taken into account as well as vocational needs.
Sufficient teaching staff must be trained to enable class sizes to be reduced to acceptable standards, provide specialist teachers for migrants, handicapped and pre-school students and relief from full-.time face-to-face teaching in primary and infant schools. The principle of differential staffing and resource allocation should be accepted so that above normal staffing and additional resources can be given to disadvantaged areas and groups. Congress expresses concern with the attitude that a proliferation of material resources in the form of educational hardware and software is seen as an answer to the disadvantaged.
Congress recognises that fundamental changes in the attitudes of many disadvantaged groups are necessary if compensatory programmes are to succeed. Accordingly, Congress views the creation of a more intimate and human relationship between those involved in the educational process, particularly at the school level, as being of prime importance. Congress, therefore, urges both the Australian and State Governments to give priority to the provision of a differential staffing ratio for disadvantaged schools. (1975 Decision - lst, 3rd and 4th paragraphs)
(Incorporate 1975 Decision as New Section 'Girls' in 1977 Decision)
Congress notes that in both "Schools in Australia" report and the June, 1975, Schools Commission report emphasis is given to the face that generally girls leave school earlier, have restricted education choices and low expectations when compared with boys. Congress notes with pleasure that the latter report contains specific recommendations aimed at overcoming some of the education disadvantages suffered by girls.
1975 Decision (Incorporate in 1977 Decision as new section)
Congress also calls for greater participation by parents and others involved in education, including such bodies as parent and teacher organisations, in decision making on matters that affect the work of teachers and students. Congress recognises the desirability of community involvement in the educative process. However, Congress rejects any attempt by any Government body to institute an administrative system that militates against the professional and industrial rights of teachers and other ancillary staff or is designed to off-load any Government Department's managerial responsibilities onto the community.
Implicit in the concept of community participation in education is the requirement that all interested bodies shall have the opportunity to examine, and comment upon in detail and at length any proposals to this end.
1975 Decision (Incorporate in 1977 Decision as new section)
Congress calls on the Australian Government to ensure that the utmost scrutiny is given to all programmes in order to ascertain whether the real objectives of the Australian Government are being implemented. To this end the Congress requests the Australian Government to make available to the public generally and interested groups in particular, details of proposed programmes submitted by State and other authorities so that an effective level of vigilance in the public interest can be maintained.
1973 Decision (Incorporate in 1977 Decision as new section)
Congress also calls on the Executive and State Branches to seek to have the history, growth and role of the Trade Union Movement and the industrial relations system included in school curricula; to have teachers appropriately trained to teach these subjects; and to further develop facilities for making trade union material and speakers available to appropriate educational bodies.
That the Commonwealth Government be requested to implement the Free Milk Scheme promised to school children.