HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

Wednesday 4 April 2001

Ms BREUER (Giles):


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I am appalled at the conditions in all Aboriginal schools in the Far North and in the west of our state. Today the member for Florey asked a question relating to the provision of teachers in schools in the Far North and the minister had no answer. I believe that this Minister for Education and Children's Services condones and promotes some of the worst racism and discrimination I have seen; and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs never speaks of school conditions, never appears to work to actively improve conditions, and also condones this racism and discrimination-because what else is it?

For 3 years I have waited for conditions to improve in my time in parliament, but nothing has happened. It is racism. Children and staff in the schools in the Pitjantjatjara lands and the Far West, such as Oak Valley and Yalata, are existing in third world conditions. The buildings and surroundings are disgraceful; they are old, dilapidated classrooms; they are unsafe and unhygienic; and they have unsightly school grounds and facilities. Maintenance is minimal and fraught with problems. Rip-off contractors go into those lands; they charge exorbitant prices; they produce shoddy and inappropriate work and decimate school budgets in the process. Bureaucracy seems unable to respond quickly or effectively to the issues involved and places the problems in the too hard basket.

Pipalyatjara School was told in 1996 that it would be rebuilt. That was five years ago. There is still nothing in the budget so on Education Department timelines it is another two years before it will be considered. Fregon has been on the list for years. Nothing has happened. Amata has shoddy buildings; the shabby play area is appalling; and it has maintenance problems. A door repair at Amata cost $3 000. How can a school budget cope with this? Some of the issues which arise include tardiness in the process required, such as a review of the facilities. It is planned but it has not happened at Pipalyatjara. Amata is on the list to be replaced. An architect has been engaged, but nothing has happened. Bureaucracy cannot seem to handle more than one project at a time.

There are problems with Partnerships 21. For example, when the money was allocated to Pipalyatjara School, the fact that there were two campuses some 100 kilometres apart was not considered-and that matter has only recently been resolved. It is bureaucracy at its most inefficient. I have said it before in this place and I will say again: would anyone in this place allow their children to attend schools under these conditions? Would Minister Buckby and Minister Kotz allow schools such as this to exist in Adelaide? Of course not. Meanwhile, teachers, principals and superintendents all tear their hair out in those lands. They work hard; they fret over the conditions; and they battle under dreadful conditions. I admire and respect them greatly.

But this government allows these conditions to continue. This government does not care about the conditions for these young people already disadvantaged by their isolation. It is absolute racism and absolute discrimination. Minister Buckby and Minister Kotz: show some initiative and some guts; get your Premier and cabinet to do something about this. Today, the Minister for Police, Correctional Services and Emergency Services said, `An easy job seems hard if you put it off long enough.' Well, seven years in office and this government has still done nothing about it.

There are other examples of what has happened in some of these areas. For example, funding to repair the leaks in the roof of the main teaching block had been approved but when the workmen went to do it they found that they had not been told the complexity of the job and that they had not brought appropriate materials. I presume they will come back at some stage, but who knows? There is no indication of when this will happen. An administration block was broken into and it took six months for some repairs to be made-and they still have not been completed.

Time expired.



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