By Canberra, Australia correspondent Erica Quarterbee
The Australian Minister for Education and Training, Christopher Pyne today announced that the forthcoming budget will tie Federal school funding to weapons training in schools, retargeting half a billion dollars from the defence budget every year. The objective is to address the huge market of more than 250,000 illicit weapons in Australia.
Students in years 10 to 12 will be required to take part in weapons training starting with small-calibre rifles, shotguns and hand guns, graduating through sub-machine guns, up to 50 calibre machine guns in the final year.
NAPLAN testing will be extended to Year 12 to focus on safe weapons handling skills. Christopher Pyne said “When the kids get their hands on a gun, legally or illicitly; they’ll be able to handle them safely, reducing the number of tragic, accidental deaths and injuries from guns.”
Teacher training will in future incorporate mandatory weapons handling as the Australia’s standing defence force is too small to divert serving members from e.g. overseas aid missions. Colleges will be financially supported for providing “make up” course for existing teachers to take during the summer break.
Minister for Defence, Kevin Andrews was initially critical of the cuts to the budget for his portfolio but was eventually convinced that it would reduce small-arms training costs for new recruits. He also anticipated a larger pool of applications to join up for the premium, uniformed jobs in Defence.
Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash welcomed the move: “Not only will students and their teachers have more skills and greater purpose in life, so fewer will fall into mental depression. This innovative scheme directly tackles the other silent but serious mental health epidemic of hoplophobia in Australia.”
“Austalians need to be prepared for the realities of the world outside of Australia” said the Senator.