Document Sample
Volume 4 Number 27, 3 August 2010

    •   FEDERAL ELECTION 2010: (20 items)
            o FUNDING: (8 items)
            o SCHOOL AUTONOMY: (3 items)
            o DISABILITY & EDUCATION: (4 items)
            o EDUCATION TAX REFUND: Both sides get sums wrong in battle over education costs
            o EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Abbott to stall childcare reforms to delay fee increases
            o VOCATIONAL EDUCATION: Lib trade schools plan not backed by most voters
            o CIVICS & CITIZENSHIP: Australian Democrazy

    •   SCIENCE EDUCATION: (2 items)
    •   STUDENT HEALTH & SAFETY: (3 items)
    •   GARDENING & FOOD EDUCATION: Greens accuse McCain of school vegie plot
    •   AWARDS & PRIZES: Australian Museum Eureka Prizes
    •   CONFERENCES & EVENTS: Learning from One Another workshops


Abbott Would Cut Public School Funding Share

Angelo Gavrielatos, President, Australian Education Union, 28 July 2010

The election of an Abbott Government would see windfall funding increases for private schools and a
cut in the share of money going to public schools, new research has revealed.

Undertaken by funding expert, Dr Jim McMorrow, the research found private schools would get a $2.3
billion increase in Commonwealth general recurrent funding between 2012 and 2016 – enough to pay
for 8,300 new teachers.

That would be almost four times higher than the increase for public schools ($652 million or 1,670

This funding disparity, combined with cuts to education programs worth $3.1 billion that have been
announced by the Coalition, would see the public school share of funding fall to 34 percent and
AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said the research was commissioned after the Coalition
announced it would keep the discredited SES funding model for schools for another four years (2012-
2016). “This research shows that by 2016 private schools would be getting $9.5 billion in
Commonwealth general recurrent funding a year, compared to $3.1 billion for public schools,” he said.

Read more:

Read the report:

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Research points to unfair school funding

Bonny Symons-Brown, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2010 (AAP)

Keeping the current federal funding model for schools will cause the divide between public and private
institutions to widen, new research shows. A paper by Sydney University honorary associate
professor Jim McMorrow shows public schools will get far less than their private counterparts if Labor
doesn't overhaul the previous Howard government's funding system.

Private schools are at present funded under the controversial socio-economic status (SES) model. It
has been criticised for giving too much money to private schools and not enough to the public system.

Labor is reviewing the arrangement, but that process is not due to be completed until the end of 2011.

Professor McMorrow said extending the SES scheme for another four years beyond 2012 would
increase funding for private schools by more than $2.3 billion, to a total of $9.5 billion. This is
compared with a $652 million increase for government schools, to a total of $3.1 billion, over the
same period.

Professor McMorrow said public schools' share of money was projected to decline to 35 per cent of all
federal school funding by 2016, if the current system remained in place.

The coalition has promised to keep the SES model should it win the next federal election.

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Abbott’s Education Cuts Will Send Australia in the Wrong Direction

Angelo Gavrielatos, President, Australian Education Union, 29 July 2010

The Australian Education Union is today launching an online advertisement warning the Coalition’s $3
billion in cuts to education will take Australia backwards.

The advertisement, which can be viewed here, will be used
in an online campaign that will run until the election.

AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said the advertisement used mixed up footage from Mr.
Abbott’s numerous sporting endeavours to convey a message about the absurdity of the cuts.
“All parties should be promising to invest more, not less in public education,” he said. “It is hard to
believe that any party would be denying our children resources and learning opportunities.

“Sadly the Coalition’s primary commitment in education has been to cut $3 billion. Those cuts will
disproportionately affect public schools and include the abolition of the Computers in Schools program
and the Trade Training Centres in Schools programs.

“The Coalition has also promised to keep the discredited federal funding system intact which will lead
to a cut in the share of funding public schools receive. New research shows that public schools, which
teach more than two thirds of students, will only get one third of the funding under Tony Abbott."

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Gillard promises more family payments cash for students

Emma Rodgers, ABC News, 2 August 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has used a campaign stop in the marginal western Sydney seat of Lindsay
to promise to increase family payments for some students by up to $4,000 a year if Labor is re-

Ms Gillard said Labor would increase the maximum payment rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A for
students aged 16 to 18 who are at school or studying a trade by up to $150 a fortnight.

Around 650,000 students would be eligible. The policy would cost $668 million over the forward
estimates and would begin in 2012.

Under present arrangements students over 16 are only receiving around $50 a fortnight.

Around 30,000 families with students over 16 will now also qualify for a rent assistance payment.

Ms Gillard said the present payment assumes that most children are leaving school at 16.

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Fix the Education Bridge

Rupert Macgregor, ACSSO Executive Director, 2 August 2010

Labor’s recognition of need for all-encompassing transformative change of education was a
watershed after a preceding decade of neglect: and great beginnings are evident. But the real hard
work still lies ahead – the next three years are critical.

Funding is a key – the previous government’s research showed urgent need for a $10 billion
investment in recurrent funding just to bring our schools to where they should have been in 2005!
There’s still a vast lag.

The Melbourne Declaration sets national expectations– but in many areas action is lacking and our
students are still being failed by a residual inertia and neglect from the past. There’s still a deep
disconnect between the rhetoric and what is – or is not – happening in schools. Still so many reviews
and reports – but where’s the action?

There’s still too much outward show – with no real change where it matters. Asia Literacy is promoted
but programs are patchy at best. Language study has been subject to some 75 reviews since 1970 –
but is still going backwards. Music and the arts vary from excellence to absent, from school to
school. Then there’s Science and Maths….

The hard yards are all ahead to achieve Julia Gillard’s commitment to parents: That every child, in
every school, can achieve their potential.

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Principals want boost for high schools

Justine Ferrari, the Australian, 2 August 2010

PRINCIPALS are campaigning to increase funding for high schools, in line with the $14 billion building
program for primary schools. The campaign will be launched today - under the banner Fix The
Education Bridge - by an alliance of principals, parents, teachers and academics. The alliance is
calling on Canberra, whether Labor or Coalition, to double the funding per student in high schools and
invest $14bn in a high school building program following on from the primary school component of the
Building the Education Revolution.

The bulk of the $16bn BER is being spent building school halls and libraries in primary schools with
secondary schools receiving small grants under the National School Pride program for minor repairs
and maintenance and about $800m to build science labs and language centres in 537 disadvantaged
high schools.

Australian Secondary Principals Association president Sheree Vertigan told The Australian that the
focus of the education revolution had been on early childhood and primary schools, with very little
investment in high schools.

"Our focus is on secondary education and that's not because we want to take money away from
primary education, but the education revolution has started and they've started by investing in primary
education. Now it's time for a serious look at secondary education," she said.

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The education revolution is vital for Australia’s future – but has not yet gone far enough

Media Release, Fix the Education Bridge Alliance, 2 August 2010

A major national alliance of education organisations has formed to launch a new on-going 3 year
campaign called “Fix the Education Bridge”.

The alliance highlights the education revolution is absolutely critical for Australia’s future and simply
hasn’t gone far enough. It points out under current spending by the Federal Government and
state/territory governments, students are not getting a world class education.

The alliance says there should be a multi-billion dollar infrastructure and building program for all
government secondary schools across the nation.
The alliance highlights that most Australians are unaware that 43% of students in Grade 12 now
attend a private school.

One of the spokespeople – Sheree Vertigan (from the Australian Secondary Principals Association) –
said billions and billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money will be wasted in the long run with mental
health, prison and health costs because we do not offer – at the current time – every student in a
government secondary school a world class education.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures (released in 2010) reveal in the past 10 years the number of
students in non-government schools have increased 8 times more than the number of students in
government schools. ABS figures show that since 1999, the numbers of students in non-government
schools have risen by 208,500 students versus a rise in government school students of 26,200.

A significant alliance of organisations representing many different sectors of Australia’s government
school system will launch a major on-going campaign, which will run for the next three years, today
(August 2nd) called Fix the Education Bridge.

Members of the Fix the Education Bridge alliance include:

    •     Australian Secondary Principals Association
    •     The Dean of Education at Monash University – Professor Jeffery John Laughran
    •     The West Australian Secondary School Executive Association
    •     NSW Secondary Principals Council
    •     Save Our Schools
    •     The Association of School Councils in Victoria
    •     The Australian Education Union
    •     Australian Council of State School Organisations
    •     Educational Transformations and Professor Brian Caldwell (former Dean of Education at the
          University of Melbourne)
    •     Tasmanian Principals Association
    •     Australian Capital Territory Principals Association
    •     The Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals
    •     Australian Special Education Principals Association
    •     South Australian Secondary Principals Association
    •     Queensland Secondary Principals Association
    •     The Association of Northern Territory Senior Government Leaders

The alliance’s central key messages are:

    1. ALL governments – Federal, state and territory – should double the allocation of funding
       being spent at the current time per head on each student in government secondary
       schools…because current allocation levels means students are not getting a world class
    2. The Federal Government should follow the $14 billion primary school infrastructure/building
       spending program that has been carried out, with a $14 billion infrastructure/building program
       for government secondary schools across the nation.

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Big boost sought for high school funding

Jessica Mahar, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 August 2010
THE combined forces of some of Australia's top educators will highlight underfunding in public
secondary schools during a three-year campaign.

The campaign, Fix The Education Bridge, launched yesterday by an alliance of organisations, will
push for the government to double the amount of money spent on public secondary schools. It also
wants a scheme for high schools similar to the $14.1 billion primary school infrastructure program.

The president of the Australian Secondary Principals Association, Sheree Vertigan, said: ''We need to
make sure that all students, no matter where they are, receive a world-class education.

''We believe that not enough are; there are some pockets where there's some outstanding education
happening but there are pockets of disadvantage.

''We're calling for a doubling of per capita expenditure on every child.''

The campaign is backed by the Australian Education Union, Save Our Schools, the Australian Council
of State School Organisations and others.

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Gillard Government gives power to Parents and Principals

Hon Julia Gillard MP, Prime Minister of Australia, Media Release, 2 August 2010

The Gillard Labor Government will build on its strong record of improving school performance by
giving Principals and Parents a bigger say in how schools are run.

Under the Empowering Local Schools reform, participating schools will have greater responsibility
over school budgets, selecting and employing teachers and staff and identifying funding priorities.
This will drive improvements in students’ achievements and enable schools to better meet the needs
of students.

Principals will have the authority to use site managers, business managers and administration staff to
handle the operation of the school, freeing up more time for teachers and principals to focus on
teaching and learning. They will also be able to hire specialist teachers and support officers for areas
of need identified by their school community.
While some schools already have strong autonomy, most lack the authority to make key decisions
that affect student outcomes and, across the country, attempts to increase local school decision-
making in government sector schools have been infrequent and patchy. A key element of this reform
is empowering local school communities to make decisions about what is best for their schools and
their students rather than a centralised system run by State bureaucracies dictating staffing mix and
resource allocations.

Parents and school communities now have more access to information than ever before, including
through the MySchool website, and the next step is to ensure schools can focus their investment and
decision making on improving outcomes for students.

Read more:

Read fact sheet:

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Australia’s Primary Principals welcome PM’s “Empowering Local Schools” Announcement

Leonie Trimper, Aust Primary Principals Association President, 3 August 2010

The Australian Primary Principals Association today welcomed Gillard Labor’s Empowering Local
Schools announcement that will give principals and local school communities greater responsibility
over school budgets, the selection and employment of teachers and staff and identifying future
funding priorities.

“This is a very positive announcement that is consistent with the greater involvement principals have
been looking for,” APPA President Ms Leonie Trimper said. “It recognises that local schools need
local solutions and that each has different priorities. In particular, many principals have been seeking
a greater say in employment and budgetary decisions.

“APPA also welcomes the fact that the Labor Party’s policy will help parents have a greater say in
their children’s education.

“Importantly, the policy recognises that different school communities, due to their size and location,
will be able to draw on a wider range of skills and expertise than others. The Gillard Government must
ensure those schools that are difficult to staff, for a range of reasons, are not further disadvantaged by
any unintended consequences of this policy.

“APPA and the principals it represents look forward to working with a Gillard Government and local
school communities to ensure appropriate resources, roles and responsibilities are put in place to
help meet the expectations and increased workload of both principals and parents. “APPA welcomes
the commitment of the $40,000 to $50,000 start up fund and training to help principals meet these
increased responsibilities.

It will also be important that appropriate training be made available to help parents play their role too.

Read more:

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We need greater school autonomy to build social inclusion and a real learning community.

Peter Garrigan, ACSSO President, 3 August 2010
What should be a currently defining characteristic of our schools – and must be of future effective
schools as learning communities, is a far greater level of school and principal autonomy – working
effectively within an effective 21st century model of school governance.

And parents need to be fully involved not only in the debate that shapes and delivers this, but in all
aspects of the decision making in each school– active players in the effective operation of a devolved
school model and full partners in all aspects of their children’s learning and development.

Our education systems and their bureaucracies seem to shaped to operate perversely to ensure that
the Principal’s lot – which should surely be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling on the planet – is
in practice not always a happy one.

In particular we see principals increasingly weighted down and overburdened with far too many
diverse and distractive things to do – and insufficient strategic control over the ways and means they
need to get them done.

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PM promises cash for disabled children

Emma Rodgers, ABC News, 29 July 2010

Children with a disability would be given $12,000 to help pay for early intervention treatment under a
re-elected Labor government, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced.

Labor would also fund an extra 150 supported accommodation places for people with disabilities and
$1 million to help them find work.

Ms Gillard outlined the measures during a speech in which she unveiled the Government's national
disability strategy in Melbourne today.

Ms Gillard said early intervention services for children were vital. "Australia must do more to help
people with a disability," she said.

Under Labor policy almost 8,000 children under six would be eligible to receive up to $12,000 of early
intervention therapies and services. Those services would include treatments such as speech
pathology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and psychology. Parents could claim up to $6,000 in
one year from July 2011.

Ms Gillard also announced that another 20,000 children up to the age of 13 would be eligible for
Medicare rebates on a range of treatments.

According to Government figures, 180,000 children under 15 live with a severe disability and by 2030
there will be 2.3 million disabled Australians.

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Gillard's disability pledge 'an historic achievement'

Tim Leslie, ABC News, 29 July 2010

Disability organisations have welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of early
intervention funding for children with a disability, calling it "an historic achievement".

In a speech outlining the Government's national disability strategy, Ms Gillard announced children
with a disability would be given $12,000 to help pay for early intervention treatment.

Labor would also fund an extra 150 supported accommodation places for people with disabilities and
$1 million to help them find work.

Cerebral Palsy Australia president Diane Heggie told ABC Radio's PM program the announcement
was fantastic news. "$12,000 of funding for early intervention services for children under six is just
great news and in that we understand children with cerebral palsy will be supported," she said.

Anthea Green from First Voice, a coalition of organisations representing hearing impaired children
and their families, told PM it was the first time the Federal Government had agreed to fund early
intervention strategies.

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Coalition Wrong on Students with Disabilities

Angelo Gavrielatos, President, Australian Education Union, 29 July 2010

The Australian Education Union said the Coalition was clearly blinded by ideology in education and
had chosen the wrong approach in its new policy on students with a disability.

AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos said that instead of a long-term strategy to provide
adequate teaching resources and programs for students with a disability Mr Abbott would hand out
individual vouchers to a tiny proportion of students.

“This is clearly a case of right problem, wrong approach. Funding for special education remains
woefully inadequate,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“Productivity Commission data shows that in 2008 eight out of ten students with disabilities and
special needs attended public schools. What public schools need is a sustained increase in funding
for additional teachers, extra training, student support services and programs that will improve the
education of all students with a disability.

“Instead Tony Abbott has promised a per student voucher which would mean school funding would be
cut or increased each year depending on the number of students.

“The plan is also woefully inadequate given only 6,000 out of the almost 160,000 students with
disabilities will benefit."

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Disabled students to get $20k under Coalition

Emma Rodgers, ABC News, 30 July 2010

Thousands of disabled students would be eligible for $20,000 to help with education costs under a
Coalition government, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has announced.

If elected the Coalition would also nationalise disability definitions across the country in a bid to
ensure people in different states are treated the same way by authorities.

Under the plan students would be given a $20,000 education card, with the measure costing $314
million over four years.

Mr. Abbott says this would allow students to make more choices about their education. "The money
will follow the student rather than simply be given to the institution," he said. "We want to ensure that
as far as is humanely possible government spending is directly helping people.

"People with disabilities deserve more than our compassion, they deserve our help."

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Both sides get sums wrong in battle over education costs

Cameron Stewart & Patricia Karvelas, The Australian, 24 July 2010

WHEN the first major brawl over costings in this election campaign broke out, the spin of the major
parties glossed over an ugly truth. Tony Abbott's $760 million plan to expand the education rebate to
include private school fees was costed on the basis of a mistake.

That mistake was made by Julia Gillard eight days earlier, when she overestimated by 600,000 the
number of students who were eligible for the Education Tax Refund scheme. The Prime Minister's
mistake came because she was using old figures, rather than new ones provided to the government
by the Tax Office only days earlier.

The public was unaware of this comedy of errors, which reveals some remarkable incompetence in
both the Gillard and Abbott camps, because the fast-flowing nature of modern election campaigns do
not lend themselves to such scrutiny.

Late on Wednesday morning, Abbott announced he would expand the education tax rebate to make
private schools more affordable for some voters and, in doing so, trump Labor's rebate policy, which
allowed for fewer claimable expenses. Abbott said the policy would cost $760m over the forward
estimates and was fully costed. Labor digested the Coalition's policy for the next four hours and,
shortly before the nightly TV news bulletins, it responded, accusing Abbott of underestimating the cost
of his policy by at least $600m.

The main reason why the major parties held such a different position on the costings of Abbott's
promise was because they were working from starkly different assumptions. The Coalition said its
costings were based on Gillard's claims earlier this month that 2.7 million students were eligible for
the education tax rebate, of which 1.4 million had made claims.
The government claimed on Wednesday that only 2.1 million students were eligible, of which 1.7
million had made claims.

If the Coalition's figures were correct, the take-up rate for the tax was barely over 50 per cent, but if
the government's figures were correct it was closer to 80 per cent - a difference that had major cost
implications for the Coalition if it introduced a more attractive expanded tax rebate....

Read more:

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Abbott to stall childcare reforms to delay fee increases

Matthew Franklin, the Australian, 27 July 2010

TONY Abbott has promised to delay introducing new rules requiring childcare providers to hire more
teachers with better qualifications.

He argues that the planned changes would spark fee increases for parents.

A Coalition government would also lift the Child Care Rebate by as much as $300 a child by
scrapping Labor's decision to dump annual indexation of the rebates to keep pace with inflation.

And the Opposition Leader would reinstate $12 million worth of funding for occasional childcare
services scrapped by Labor in its 2010-11 budget.

Mr Abbott made the announcements in Queensland yesterday as he continued his quest for victory in
the August 21 election by attempting to counter Labor's presumed advantage in the crucial policy

Read more:

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Revamp for Building the Education Revolution urged by Simon Crean

Patricia Karvelas, the Australian, 30 July 2010

Education Minister Simon Crean wants to revamp the Building the Education Revolution program by
giving school communities more control over what is built.

Mr. Crean told The Australian he hoped the chairman of the BER implementation taskforce, Brad
Orgill, would use his imminent report into the scheme to recommend ways to give schools more
control over what was built with their funding allocations.

He said he believed that lack of local input was one of the ongoing problems with the $16.2 billion
schools upgrade program, which has been beset by claims of wastage and overcharging.
But Mr Crean said he did not support the BER model being put forward by the Coalition, which would
put principals in charge of managing their own projects and keeping any savings. He said this would
make principals "project managers" and waste their time.

He said local control could be achieved through local consultative committees without burdening
school principals.

The Australian has unveiled evidence of schools being charged excessive fees for buildings and other
structures provided under the BER program. There is also evidence that schools in the Catholic and
private systems, which had more control over their BER projects, achieved much better value for
money than public schools.

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Clash over Orgill report timing

Anthony Klan, the Australian, 2 August 2010

THE head of the taskforce into the schools stimulus program refuses to guarantee he will hand down
his report before the federal election.

Taskforce head Brad Orgill said he "expects" the taskforce will report before August 21, but could
make no guarantees other than that the interim report would be completed "some time in August".

"We have been receiving a lot of questions about when the report is to be finished, but all I can says
is the three-month anniversary (of the taskforce) is August 3 and the taskforce will report sometime in
August," Mr Orgill told The Australian yesterday.

Regardless, a spokesman for Education Minister Simon Crean yesterday reaffirmed the government's
pledge to release the Orgill report before the election.

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Lib trade schools plan not backed by most voters
Justine Ferrari, the Australian, 2 August 2010

THE Coalition's plan to build stand-alone trade schools to replace Labor's scheme is not supported by
three-quarters of Coalition voters. A survey of more than 1500 voters conducted by Auspoll found
that three in four people believed the best way to train school students for a trade was by increasing
the facilities in high schools and TAFE centres rather than building stand-alone centres.

Support for school-based training and TAFEs is consistent among all voters, according to the survey
conducted on behalf of the Australian Education Union.

At the last federal election, the Labor Party outlined a 10-year, $2.5 billion program giving each of the
nation's 2650 high schools between $500,000 and $1.5 million to build a trade training centre.

The policy replaced the Howard government's program of Australian Technical Colleges (ATC),
establishing stand-alone schools focusing on different trades.

Federal AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos said the ATC program, announced in 2004, established
only 21 colleges for a cost of $440m with only 2000 students enrolled by August 2007.

"The colleges are a costly and unnecessary duplication of existing school and TAFE training facilities,"
he said.

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Australian Democrazy

Aussie Democrazy is the blog of Year 8 Civics students at Caroline Chisholm Catholic College in
Braybrook, in Melbourne's inner-west.

We're aiming to learn about politics by reporting on the 2010 Federal Election and beyond.

We have set up this blog in order to:

1). Gain a better understanding of how the 3 levels of government in Australia operate.

2). Report upon the events of local, state and federal election campaigns.

3). Raise our awareness of the influence that the media has on the political process.

While we will be conducting a lot of research, using the library and online resources to raise our
awareness, we would also like to get a first-hand glimpse at politics, politicians and journalists.

We are an apolitical blog and do not support any of the parties – we want to understand the process,
not ideologies.

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“Us and Them: Muslim–Christian Relations and Cultural Harmony in Australia”

Author: Dr Abe Ata, Australian Catholic University (2010)

Cross-cultural research provides exceptional insights into the hopes and fears of dealing with people
different from ourselves. In Australia, such research suggests that Australian Muslims have surpassed
Asians as one of the country’s most marginalised religious and ethnic groups. Muslims and people
from the Middle East are thought to be unable to fit into Australia, with more than 50% of Australians
preferring their relatives did not to marry into a Muslim family. Yet this statistic masks diverse
interpretations of interfaith relations and cultural harmony present across Australia today.

In 12 essays, this important new study offers truths about interfaith relations as they are believed and
expressed by Muslim and non-Muslim Australians. The essays are interdisciplinary and varied in
topic, and seek to challenge the images of Islam held by both xenophobic Westerners and extremist

This book is essential reading for all current and future educators and for all students — secondary
through to tertiary and postgraduate — all who need or desire an introduction to Christian Muslim
relations and attitudes in this country.

Indeed, for all Australians.

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Learning from One Another: Bringing Muslim perspectives into Australian schools

Eeqbal Hassim and Jennet Cole-Adams (May 2010)

Learning from One Another is a new resource providing information, practical advice, and classroom
strategies for teachers in all Australian schools. It contains 116 full colour pages packed with
background material, learning sequences and worksheets that can be photocopied for use in
classroom teaching and learning.

Whether your school has - or will have - one or many Muslim students, this resource will:

    •     provide avenues for you to introduce Islam and Muslim related content in your classrooms
    •     equip you with the skills to meet the needs and expectations of Muslim students and their
          parents in education – and the information needs and expectations of all other students and
          families in your school community
    •     facilitate a whole-school approach to supporting healthy relationships and engagement with
          Muslim students, parents and communities
    •     offer a greater awareness of the diversity of Islam and Muslims, nationally and globally
    •     develop an appreciation and understanding of Muslim history and cultures in Australia and
          across the world.


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In science, we’re back with the dinosaurs

Elisabeth Tarica, the Age, 2 August 2010

AUSTRALIA'S scientists are not surprised. They've been warning for years about the problems the
country faces because of a failure to embrace the sciences. Now they have fresh proof.

A national science literacy poll released last week has dented notions of a clever country by exposing
a critical lack of understanding of the basics. The poll found that one in three Australians believes
humans and dinosaurs lived together. Many others thought the Earth took a day rather than a year to
travel around the sun.

Only 60 people of 1,500 answered all six questions correctly in the poll taken for The Federation of
Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) and the Australian Academy of Science.

Jenny Graves, secretary for education and public awareness at the academy, says the results are

"It highlights that science education is just not good enough for a country that prides itself on being a
clever country," Professor Graves says. "None of us are all that surprised because we have been
aware for a few years that Australia is losing ground in science and maths but it's a real wake-up call
that . . . we have a very sizeable number of people who really don't understand some of the absolute
basics of our lives."

The poll, which copied a survey by the California Academy of Sciences, also found 29 per cent of
those surveyed did not think that evolution was occurring now.

While Australians generally fared better than the Americans, about 25 per cent did not think humans
were influencing the evolution of other species.

The results are worrying, but FASTS president Cathy Foley takes heart that 80 per cent of those
polled said science education was very important to the economy.

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Creationists hijack lessons and teach schoolkids man and dinosaurs walked together

Carly Hennessy & Kathleen Donaghey, Courier Mail, 31 July 2010

PRIMARY school students are being taught that man and dinosaurs walked the Earth together and
that there is fossil evidence to prove it. Fundamentalist Christians are hijacking Religious Instruction
(RI) classes in Queensland despite education experts saying Creationism and attempts to convert
children to Christianity have no place in state schools.

Students have been told Noah collected dinosaur eggs to bring on the Ark, and Adam and Eve were
not eaten by dinosaurs because they were under a protective spell.

Critics are calling for the RI program to be scrapped after claims emerged Christian lay people are
feeding children misinformation.

About 80 per cent of children at state primary schools attend one half-hour instruction a week, open to
any interested lay person to conduct. Many of the instructors are from Pentecostal churches.
Education Queensland is aware that Creationism is being taught by some religious instructors, but
said parents could opt out.

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Unflued heaters put school maintenance funds at risk

ABC News, Jul 31, 2010

The New South Wales Teachers Federation is concerned school maintenance will suffer if funds are
diverted to replacing unflued gas heaters. It says principals at two schools in the state have been told
by the Government that maintenance could be delayed while they find money to replace the heaters.

Federation president Bob Lipscombe says the problem with the heaters is not new. He says they
should not be used as an excuse to stop essential maintenance.

The Government has conceded that some minor public school maintenance works will be delayed in
order to fund the promised $15 million replacement of all unflued gas heaters in schools.

But the Opposition's spokesman Brad Hazzard says that is unacceptable. "Kristina Keneally's
Government should have had enough foresight and vision to make sure there were enough funds to
address a fundamental health need in our schools - but also to provide the maintenance needed for
our schools," he said.

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NSW toxic heater cost blowout

Heath Aston, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August 2010

Replacing toxic gas heaters in NSW schools could take up to a decade and the cost will balloon way
past the $170 million estimated by the state government, according to heater industry experts.

In another blow for Premier Kristina Keneally and her Education Minister Verity Firth, some schools
will have to have their entire electricity supply upgraded, at a cost of about $150,000 each, to switch
heating methods.

The debacle threatens to destabilise the leadership of Ms. Keneally. Both teachers and MPs from
Labor's Left faction are furious at the treatment of Ms Firth by the Premier after Ms Firth announced
the replacement program without Treasurer Eric Roozendaal's approval.

For the past two decades, every unflued gas heater in NSW state schools has been made and
installed by just one company, Bowin Manufacturing at Brookvale.

Industry sources said the most likely alternative supplier to Bowin is the Japanese-owned Rinnai,
whose energy-saver model, at between $3000 and $4000 a unit installed, will cost up to four times as
much as Bowin's purpose-built DB90 Lo-Nox model.
Read more:

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Beware school heater blowback

John Kaye MP, Media release, 1 August 2010

Action to replace the dangerous unflued gas heaters in NSW public schools should not be delayed by
rumours and propaganda coming from vested interests.

"The science on the health impacts from unflued gas heaters in classrooms is clear. The fumes are
making students sick. Even the findings of the highly conservative Woolcock study, where
measurements were taken during an abnormally warm winter period, supported their removal.

"The current NSW government policy of leaving doors and windows open to ventilate the classroom
while the heaters are running is absurd. Treasury officials and education department bureaucrats
peddling this line should be forced to work in rooms with freezing air blasting across them.

"Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia have phased out these units. NSW is the only
southern state that still allows them in classrooms."

Read more:

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Greens accuse McCain of school vegie plot

Julian Lee, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July 2010

THE frozen food company McCain has been forced to defend a countrywide promotion encouraging
schoolchildren to plant vegetable patches, following accusations that schools have been forced to
sign up for future marketing programs as a condition of entry.

About 2300 schools have signed up to the program which encourages children to accrue points by
collecting barcodes from packets of McCain products that can subsequently be exchanged for
gardening equipment or seeds.

But the program, which McCain has hailed a success, has come under fire from NSW Greens who
have criticised the company for its binding terms and state education authorities for giving the
program the go- ahead.

The Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: ''McCain is the wrong type of organisation to have on school
grounds or to be allowed to use schools to promote its products. Its frozen pizzas and pre-packaged
meals are high in fat and salt. Children should not be lured into thinking they are healthy choices
because of the connection to their school vegie garden.''

Read more:

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Australian Museum Eureka Prizes 2010: People’s Award now open for your vote!

Science comes alive through the exciting work of some of Australia’s best young scientists in action.

The People's Choice Award, the only Eureka Prize where the Australia public decides the winner, is
now underway - with voting open.

The Eureka team invites you and your students to investigate, debate and decide - then cast a vote
for your favorite scientist.

Each year, science teachers across the country find this event an outstanding opportunity to “make
science come alive” for their students, through the real-life work of some of Australia’s best young
scientists as they explore the big issues for the future, extending our knowledge and solving the
challenging questions in ways that open up new horizons for young people’s understanding and

In addition to recognising and supporting the work of a great scientist all those who vote have the
chance to win great prizes.

For further information and to vote go to

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ACT: Single-sex schools considered in education discussion paper

ABC News, 2 August 2010

The ACT government is considering public education changes including single sex schools and
selective entry for students. It is seeking comment on a discussion paper that also raises options
including flexible class hours, virtual schools and partnerships between schools and businesses.

The education minister Andrew Barr says the government must look beyond the traditional schooling
model. "Certainly in other states and territories in Australia there are single sex public schools but we
don't necessarily have to go down that path but we're just asking the question and we're particularly
interested in feedback from consumers of education; students and parents," he said.

Mr Barr says the process is about strengthening the education system and boosting student retention.
"We've got to be flexible in that the traditional schooling model that dates back more than a century
just doesn't engage so that proportion of the student population, we can't ignore them, we need to
engage with them and be flexible in how we do so," he said.

"I am a reformer. I would like to see the ACT system resume its place taking a leadership role in
education in Australia."

The public can comment until the 7th of September.

Read more:

Raed the paper:

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NSW: Secret report: Schools riddled with asbestos

Gemma Jones, the Daily Telegraph, 1 August 2010

SCHOOL students in NSW are learning in demountable classrooms riddled with asbestos and more
than 1000 of the buildings are in such a state of disrepair that they have been deemed "write-offs".

A secret report ordered by the Department of Education has revealed the state's 6000 demountables
are all suspected of containing asbestos and the cost of removal would be almost $2.5 million.
Dozens of the most run-down demountables would need more than $80,000 worth of repairs but the
report recommended they should be scrapped - with a total of 1037 demountables deemed too run
down to repair.

The report also found that 300 of the demountables were of the lowest quality "light weight" models
which should be scrapped without the department even considering refurbishing them.

Scrapping the more than 1000 demountable buildings - rather than attempting costly renovation work
- would save up to $32 million.

A Department of Education spokesman said asbestos cement sheets in demountables were painted
over and regularly maintained. The report found that removing the asbestos from each demountable
classroom would cost almost $2400 each.

"Asbestos in demountables is generally asbestos cement sheets," the spokesman said. "They are
painted, sealed and regularly maintained and of negligible risk."

When the buildings are moved, the asbestos is removed safely, he said.

Read more:

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NSW: Preschool pressure group launches campaign

ABC News, 3 August 2010
A campaign for improved preschool funding will be launched on the North Coast later today.

Bianca Urbina, from the lobby group Children's Choice says fees charged in New South Wales are
still the highest in the country.

She says government funding has increased over the last five years, but more needs to be done to
ensure all children have access to services.

Ms Urbina says all candidates should be quizzed on the issue.

"We operate according to school terms in order to prepare children for school, and therefore we do
not qualify for the child-care tax rebate, but on the other had we have the most expensive fees in the
country - something has got to give," she said.


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NT: Labor Senator criticises NT's bilingual policy

Kirsty Nancarrow, ABC News, 27 July 2010

Northern Territory Labor Senator Trish Crossin has criticised the Territory Government's bilingual
education policy at a national Indigenous childcare conference in Alice Springs.

Trish Crossin addressed 1,000 delegates about the challenge of raising school attendance and
educational performance.

She told the conference the Territory Government's policy of forcing schools to teach English for the
first four hours a day is wrong.

"What is crucial here is the child learns the skill of reading and writing, that they know that the print
goes from the top to the bottom of the page, that pages go from left to right, that the pictures match
the words," she said. "And they best do that in their own language."

Read more:

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NT: Asylum seeker kids to go to Darwin schools

Katrina Bolton, ABC News, 28 July 2010

The Immigration Department has confirmed it wants to put asylum seeker children in Darwin
schools. The department says there are more than 200 asylum seeker children in Darwin, most of
them from Afghanistan.

A department spokesman says it is important for the children's development that they attend school if
they are old enough.

A spokeswoman for the Northern Territory Education Minister, Chris Burns, says the Government has
been approached about providing places for about 60 children, but no final arrangements have been
The Australian Education Union's Adam Lampe says two Darwin schools - Anula Primary School and
Sanderson Middle School - have been selected to teach the children.

"They'll be in their own groups, in terms of their teaching, but obviously schools are very social
environments and those kids will be mixing with the other kids in the playground just through the
general life of the school," he said. "So it'll be a very valuable cultural exchange."

Read more:

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QLD: Townsville kids win award at international film festival

Penny Timms, ABC News, 28 July 2010

Students at a north Queensland primary school have won a prestigious award at the international
short film festival in Japan. The year seven students at the Mundingburra State School in Townsville
wrote and produced the animated short film about climate change that won the Kid Witness Global
Award at the festival.

Deputy principal Craig Homer says it is a great achievement for the students who worked mostly out
of school hours to complete the project.

"I think it took about 2,000 hours to produce - it involves a strong message around global warming,"
he said. "They actually designed and made up their own song, their own rap song they called 'the
Global Warming Rap', so a whole range of activities and skills the kids are able to learn."

Mr. Homer says it has given the students a good opportunity to learn valuable skills outside of the
regular school curriculum.

Read more:

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QLD: Kids urge parents to sign up to education trust

ABC News, 30 July 2010

A far north Queensland Indigenous organisation says families in Cape York have saved a total of
about $1 million in educational funds.

Cape York Partnerships set up the Student Education Trusts 14 years ago to help families set aside
money for their children's education. Coordinator Deborah Symonds says the trust account enables
many children to stay in their communities and go to high school.

She says in some cases, children are now encouraging their parents to sign up to the scheme.

"They can see the other children have the trust, they're often the ones who go to their parents and
say, 'you know mum we need to sign up for a trust so I can have the same things as the other children
in the community'," she said.

"So the kids are the ones that push it along a lot more sometimes than what we need to do."

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SA: New trade school facilities open at Peterborough to boost job skills

Hon Jay Weatherill MP, SA Minister for Education, Media Release, 27 July 2010

New trade training facilities will be opened at Peterborough High School today to give students in the
Upper Spencer Gulf and surrounding districts better opportunities to gain job skills while they are at
school. The $600,000 upgrade at Peterborough High School includes a high-tech training room and
accommodation for an apprentice broker who will work with students to give them a head start into
trade careers.

Peterborough High School is part of the Flinders District Regional Trade Training Centre, which also
includes Gladstone High School, John Pirie Secondary School and Jamestown Community School.
Students in these areas are being trained for jobs in industries as diverse as agriculture, construction,
automotive, electro-technology, engineering and horticulture.

Mr Weatherill said the Federal Government and State Government were working together to better
prepare young people for work and community life.

“Peterborough High School now has an area for an apprenticeship broker, who will work closely with
students and industry to help find employment and training opportunities with local industry,” he said.

“The State Government’s upgrade of Peterborough High School also includes a training room where
students could use specialist software used in training for engineering and mechanics. The training
room is equipped with video conferencing facilities for students to communicate with other schools
and training providers giving specialised instruction. This is an example of teachers, trainers, parents
and local employers working together to lift the skills of young people in the local area and boost their
opportunities for gaining better jobs.”

Read more:

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SA: $12 million investment in school computer systems

Hon Jay Weatherill MP, SA Education Minister, Media Release, 27 July 2010

The State Government will provide an extra $12 million a year in information technology support to
public schools to help free up principals from the increasing demands of IT issues.

Education Minister Jay Weatherill says the funding boost will assist every public school to pay for staff
dedicated to running the school’s computer system.

“Modern classes are equipped with a wide range of IT equipment – from laptops to interactive
whiteboards,” Mr Weatherill said. “These not only need to be maintained, but schools need to plan
how to best use the equipment in teaching students.”

“During my visits to schools, principals have been raising with me their concerns that IT issues are
taking up too much of their time and resources.

“The $12 million in extra funding we will provide to schools will pay for the equivalent of approximately
120 extra full-time staff.
“This funding will be distributed according to the size of the school, so that while small schools will be
provided funds for a staff member for half a day per week, larger schools will be able to employ
someone full time for IT support.

Read more:

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TAS: Librarian takes top gong

ABC News, 2 August 2010

A southern Tasmanian librarian who increased the number of boys visiting the library in their own
time, has taken out a state award for her work.

Kate Reid from the Hutchins School in Hobart has won the Australian School Library Association of
Tasmania's Teacher Librarian of the year award.

Principal Warwick Brennan says Ms Reid has improved the library layout, introduced new equipment
and raised the profile of literacy in the primary school.

Mrs Reid will now go in the running for the national Teacher Librarian of the Year Award.


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WA: Student brings 'bomb' to show-and-tell

ABC News, 3 August 2010

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) says staff at a Geraldton primary school were right to call police
when a student brought a military-style device to class for show-and-tell.

Police set up an exclusion zone around the object on the school oval for much of the day, before an
army officer declared the device safe late yesterday.

ADF spokesman Gary Booth says it is understood the boy's brother found the aircraft practice bomb
in a quarry near Exmouth.

He says the incident serves as a timely reminder for people not to touch such items.

"People should not handle any explosive or potentially explosive items," he said.

"They should actually make a note of the location and report it to police who will come and assess the
item and then hand it to defence if they decide it's a defence item."


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“Learning from One Another” Workshops for educators:

24 August - Perth
6 September - Canberra

These are FREE one-day professional learning workshops for primary and secondary school
teachers, from all educational sectors, to assist teaching and learning in a multi-faith classroom.

All workshops are from 9am to 2.30pm. Morning tea and lunch will be provided.

This professional learning workshop will familiarise you with the “Learning from One Another”
resource and help you identify its relevance to your school situation. All workshop participants will
receive a copy of the resource at no cost.

The workshops will be facilitated by the resource authors, Eeqbal Hassim, Islamic Education
Consultant to NCEIS and Jennet Cole-Adams, Director of Curriculum Services at ACSA.

This professional learning opportunity is brought to you by the National Centre of Excellence for
Islamic Studies (NCEIS), University of Melbourne, and the Australian Curriculum Studies Association
(ACSA). It is generously funded by the Myer Foundation.

Read more:

Watch videos:

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4-5 August - Isolated Children’s Parents Association Conference - Fremantle, WA -

12-14 August - National Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference - Gold Coast, QLD -

14-22 August - National Science Week -

15-17 August - ACER Research Conference - Melbourne, VIC -

19-27 August - International Conference of Mathematicians - Hyderabad, India -

25-27 August - European Conference on Educational Research - Helsinki, Finland -

26-27 August - Annual School Leaders' Conference - Gold Coast, QLD -

29 August-4 September - National Literacy & Numeracy Week -
3-4 September - Future Directions in Literacy Conference - Sydney, NSW -

6 September - International Middle Years of Schooling Conference - Adelaide, SA -

6-8 September - London International Conference on Education - London, UK -

8-10 September - Creative Innovation - Melbourne, VIC -

15-17 September - SPERA Conference, University of Sunshine Coast, Queensland -

22 September - Language and Culture and Social Connectedness in Our Diverse Landscape
Symposium - Toowoomba, QLD -

27-30 September - National Australian Association for Environmental Education Conference -
Canberra, ACT -

27-30 September - Australian Mathematical Society 54th Meeting - Brisbane, QLD -

27 September-1 October - International Association of School Librarianship Conference - Brisbane

28 September - Australian Professional Teachers Association Conference - Sydney NSW -

October - International School Library Month -

12-15 October - EDGE 2010: e-Learning: The horizon and beyond - Toronto, Canada -

17-23 October - Anti-Poverty Week 2010 -

13 November - Hands on Literacy Conference - Singapore -

2-5 December - Second Annual Asian Conference on Education - Osaka, Japan -

11-12 March - Going Global 2011 - Hong Kong -

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