Critical moves to ensure Batchelor Institute’s survival

Guy Healy; 26/8/09; (3 Items}

Receivers have been appointed and the vice-chancellor has stood down at one of the country’s leading educators of indigenous Australians as part of a rescue plan for the Northern Territory’s struggling Batchelor Institute. The moves by the federal and Territory governments, to “secure the future” of Batchelor, follow a warning from the key institute that its finances were critical and governmental aid was needed, federal Education Minister Julia Gillard said this week. Both governments publicly thanked Batchelor vice-chancellor Jeannie Herbert for her contribution to indigenous education in the Territory. However, she has stood herself down, a spokesman for MsGillard said. Batchelor’s governing council has appointed KordaMentha partner and corporate reconstruction specialist Brian McMaster as acting director to manage the institute while new governance processes are put in place.


Work together for better participation
Nola Alloway; 26/8/09
Participation in higher education has increased during the past decades and after the May federal budget announcements it is set to expand further. But in the face of this overall growth, the poorest of our population, those who may benefit the most from having access to advanced levels of knowledge and skills, remain under-represented. It is sobering to find that not only wealth but where we live is a predictor of our life chances. Those living in regional and remote areas of Australia, indigenous and non-indigenous people alike, are less likely to access university studies than are their urban counterparts. In fact, participation rates for those living in regional and remote areas worsened, rather than improved, during 2002-07 against a backdrop of marginal increases for other equity groups. The federal government has set targets to address these issues, paying particular attention to increasing participation rates of those for whom geography and income appear an obstacle. With a delivery date of 2020, it has set the challenge of increasing the proportion of students that universities draw from regional and remote areas, indigenous communities and low-income families.

Aboriginal languages deserve revival
Ghilad Zuckermann; 26/8/09
The more languages we know, the more likely we are to embrace different perspectives. The intellectual gains of being bilingual have been scientifically demonstrated. Most recently, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2009) described the cognitive gains in seven-month-old bilingual infants. In three eye-tracking studies, Agnes Melinda Kovacs and Jacques Mehler found that infants, reared with two languages from birth, display improved cognitive control abilities compared with matched monolinguals. But even if one was not lucky enough to become multilingual within the crucial period of the first 12 years of one’s life, there are various advantages of learning heritage languages as an adult too. American children’s writer Russell Hoban, born in 1925, once said that language is an archeological vehicle, full of the remnants of dead and living pasts, lost and buried civilisations and technologies. The language we speak is a whole palimpsest of human effort and history.