Differences should not affect schooling
Growing up in Warrnambool, I have a strong interest in the quality of schooling that is provided across the state and across Australia. A recent article (The Standard, 25/01) has noted that in a particular country region of Victoria, students have lower attendance, lower results and lower engagement than their city cousins.
There are social and educational factors at work here for all families.
Employment opportunities may be less in country areas, with students leaving school when they can to obtain jobs, or to continue with working on the family farm.
With lower incomes, families may not be able to support the continuing education of children. Educational opportunities may be less with some secondary schools not able to offer the range of subjects to attract the interests of all students.
It is however the case, that most students will have access to a nearby university or TAFE centre, quite unlike previous generations.
Curriculum flexibility is required to allow student interest to be followed, involving broad principles within which teachers and students can work.
Connections with the local community allow key ideas held by families to be identified, respecting local cultures, histories and practices. School resources and equipment must be appropriate to allow curriculum purpose to be met.
From my experience, I do see differences between city and country schooling, but these should not produce differences in quality outcomes.
Dr Neil Hooley, Essendon West
Conquest, colonisation 'normal' when it happened
I agree that from an Indigenous perspective January 26, 1788 was a day when their future was suddenly shifted off the course of the previous tens of millenia of existence on this continent.
That said, does anyone really believe the luxury of that benign isolation would have survived another 50 let alone 100 years, i.e. a blink on an eye in terms of that previous timescale?
Portugal, Spain, Holland, Britain and France had been in the Indo-Pacific area for some 200 years before the First Fleet were sent.
The west coast (New Holland) was known, as was the SW corner of now WA and Van Diemen's land and partly charted. Adventure Bay on the south coast of Bruny Island was a well known stop off and watering point for Dutch, French and British navigators.
By 1888 the Americans were only a decade away form seizing the Phillipines from Spain, Japan had been 'opened up' and well on its way to becoming a 'world power' and Germany had taken over in PNG in 1884 as part of that nations hitherto frustrated imperial ambitions.
Conquest and colonisation was completely normal in those times and had been for millenia all across Africa and Eurasia not to mention the Incas and the Aztecs in the Americas.
Perhaps Europeans are not so much 'white' but 'pink with brown spots', a metaphor for the scars from relentless invasion, conquest and slaughter survived over all those millenia.
Introduction Day? Reality Check Day?
Mike Seward, Port Fairy
Protect our native waterbirds
In response to Peter Walsh MP (23/1) supporting the shooting of our native waterbirds I would like to make the following comments.
Mr Walsh implies that all hunters are able to comply with 'strict rules and regulations to ensure future sustainability of game species'. In fact a 2019 survey of duck hunters by the Game Authority showed that 80 per cent of duck hunters were not able to correctly identify 'game' species and 85 per cent of hunters were unable to answer a question on the humane killing of wounded birds. That is the reason why large numbers of illegal and rare birds are shot, and why wounded birds are left to die a slow and painful death.
A government report (DJPR 2019) revealed that duck shooter expenditure has decreased by 46 per cent. In fact people who enjoy nature and water sports are deterred from visiting regional wetlands during the shooting season, so income from other tourist activity actually decreases.
Despite recent rain, surveys by professor Richard Kingston in eastern Australia show that waterbird populations for 2020 are even lower than 2019. In fact 5 out of 8 'game species' are in significant long term decline.
Victoria has a huge feral animal problem. Hunters could turn their attention to this and under a permit system feral populations of deer could be significantly reduced.
It is now time to protect what remains of our native waterbird populations and to end the notion that killing them is a 'sport'.
Erica Code, Warrnambool
Duck shooting not OK
Walsh's throw away lines belong in the bin (The Standard, 23 Jan). Again the Nationals' leader fails to mention facts.
Professional polls continually show duck shooting is opposed by city and country folk.
Only 7000 duck shooters - less than a quarter of one per cent of the population went bird shooting last season, including shooters who had their guns seized by police. So much for Walsh's tens of thousands of law abiding hunters.
The latest duck shooters survey showed a cliff-fall in alleged economic input into Victoria, a massive 46 per cent drop between 2013 and 2019. It's a pittance and not a fraction of what is derived from areas where they shoot with cameras instead. Furthermore, the survey doesn't account for adverse impacts to community.
Independent economists report the majority of holiday makers avoid shooting areas. Loss of tourism to rural areas is one thing, loss of public amenity for hundreds of thousands of birdwatchers (Tourism Research Australia) let alone the growing numbers of families living by the waterways who have a right to peaceful enjoyment of their properties, is another.
Shooting from before daylight close-by disrupts the sleep of children and shift workers, sends horses through fences, kids into tears, prevents working from home and puts farmers on trespass alert.
It's a high price for the community to pay for a few bird shooters' whims.
Isn't it time Walsh disclosed his hunting club membership?
It's certainly time he did the right thing for regional Victoria.
Kerrie Allen, Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting Inc.
Good luck to school students for the year ahead
I want to take this opportunity to wish students across the south-west coast all the very best for the year ahead.
This year I have my first grandchild entering primary school along with my last child completing year 12. So, with 28 years of experience in the system, I can empathise with all the parents out there who are sending their children off to school this week, wanting only the best for their child's future.
Last year was tough on parents too. Let's learn from the home school experience and ensure the best parts are embraced. If we all work together, we can ensure we maintain an environment that allows our schools to be on campus all year. It's an emotional time that first day. I will have a tear in my eye for sure. All the very best to each family as we embark on a new school year.
Roma Britnell MP, Member for South-West Coast
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