ADULT MIGRANT ENGLISH SERVICE PRIVATISATION
Mr SULLIVAN (Wollongong) [5.52 p.m.]: I should like to continue my remarks about the privatisation of adult migrant English services in Sydney and the Illawarra region. On the last occasion I raised this matter I referred to a letter dated 15 April from the New South Wales Teachers Federation to the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman. In that letter the Federation expressed its objection to the way in which the adult migrant English program had effectively been handed over from a public service to a private monopoly. The letter stated:
This concern surrounds the relationship between the ACL Consortium, ELICOS, NEAS, and their personnel, on the one hand, and the selection panel which awarded the tenders in NSW, and the process of monitoring the AMEP service delivery.
The English Language International Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) Association is the industry body for private organisations providing such courses in Australia.
NEAS is the National ELICOS Accreditation Scheme.
DIMA has engaged the National ELICOS Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) to monitor AMEP service delivery. The contract to monitor the AMEP was not put to public tender.
NEAS is very closely connected to ELICOS, being a private non-profit organisation whose focus until recently was the accreditation of ELICOS MEMBERS. It is apparently funded through the fees of accredited colleges, whose industry body is ELICOS.
ACL is one of the largest, if not the largest member of ELICOS.
Helen Zimmerman is at present the CEO of ACL, and was previously a senior AMES employee, in fact its Deputy Director for four years. She is the Deputy Chair of the ELICOS Association and a Director of the NEAS and of the ELICOS Association, and is a Director of the ACL Board.
that is the Department of Immigration and Migrant Affairs -
NEAS is staffed by its Secretariat officials. Its senior official is Maggie Gray, also previously a senior AMES official. Maggie Gray chaired the panel which selected the successful AMEP tenderers (including ACL) for DIMA -
What therefore appears to be the case is that Maggie Gray chaired the panel that selected a company, ACL, whose CEO and Director, Helen Zimmerman, is also the Deputy Chair and a Director of ELICOS, and a Director of NEAS, which employs Maggie Gray.
The letter requests that the matter be thoroughly investigated by the Ombudsman. Basically, the relationship between a number of individuals and organisations is incestuous and aims to supplant the Adult Migrant English Service, which has just celebrated its fiftieth year of providing services within New South Wales. The organisation is held in high regard. The tendering process in which private providers bid for a service which the Commonwealth Government funded through the New South Wales public service but has now been effectively privatised must be investigated.
The whole process has a smell about it. Freedom of choice is not being provided through this; rather, a private monopoly has been put in place to deliver a service that was previously provided by the public sector. The people of the Illawarra do not have a choice. They used to go to AMES, which was a highly regarded and respected institution. Now they must go to the ACL provider which has total monopoly of the service. The argument put forward by DIMA and the Federal Minister is fictitious. The situation is most deplorable and should be monitored.
The NSW Teachers Federation believes that the connection between these people and their organisations and the bodies selecting the tenders and monitoring the provision of services in Adult Migrant English provision is of grave concern.