Tertiary sector must offer other paths for entry

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Tertiary sector must offer other paths for entry

Year 12 students, parents and teachers are tearing their collective hair out trying to ensure that year 12 exams and assessments can be conducted with fidelity. The additional stressor of an uncertain exam period is unnecessary and unfair for the Class of 21, who also had a very interrupted start to their VCE in 2020. In schools, we are trying our best to support our young people who are showing heightened anxiety and an increase in the prevalence of mental health issues – all to get them “through the exams”.

Given the sole purpose of the exams is to produce the ATAR and the sole purpose of the ATAR is to gain entry to university, the obvious question is why has the tertiary sector not designed alternative selection processes for entry? A combination of school based assessment, GAT score and, where relevant, a written application or interview should surely predict students who are likely to succeed in their tertiary studies. Imagine how differently our students would be feeling now without the looming spectre of exams for which they are barely prepared, but which still have incredibly high stakes.
Karen Terry, principal, Greensborough

Take a broader view of wars and losses

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge wants Anzac Day to be taught as “the most sacred of all days in Australia” rather than as a “contested day”. In fact it should be taught in schools as the day which celebrates the invasion of another people’s country by Australian and New Zealand troops which ended in a humiliating defeat, the senseless slaughter of thousands of young Australians at places like the Somme in an imperial war which had nothing to do with us.

The loss of Australian lives in Korea which ended in a stalemate and achieved nothing, the loss of more than 500 young men in Vietnam again where we had no business being and ending in a humiliating defeat. Iraq no business of ours, which ended in disaster, and now Afghanistan, yet another humiliating defeat. Only perhaps in World War II can we hold up our heads up with pride. That is what should be taught in schools and almost universally those involvements had nothing to do with Australian freedoms and values.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Teaching the shameful parts of our history

I am sorry, Alan Tudge, but as a history teacher, I will continue to expose my students to the truth about this campaign, not the jingoistic myths. We teach students about war to ensure that it is avoided in the future rather than glorified.

We invaded a country that was neither a threat nor an enemy and we withdrew, beaten, after nine months. Whilst there were many acts of bravery on both sides, we were not fighting for freedom, but because Britain wanted us to fight. You would do well to read, listen and learn from the veterans who fought at Gallipoli. Try watching Boys from the Dardanelles, for example.

Very few nations commemorate a disastrous loss as a national sacred day. Your attempts to downplay the shameful parts of our history only provides fodder for the growing extremist right-wing, nationalist groups who feed on the myths that you would want us to perpetuate.
Peter Kadar, Clematis

The neglect of science, maths and research

Professor Michelle Simmons wins one of the world’s most prestigious science prizes and gains international recognition for her passion and dogged work in quantum physics, but her success is reported at the bottom of pages eight and nine (The Age, 5/9). A similar level of intense achievement in sport – eg, an Olympic gold medal – or an article about an entrepreneur becoming a billionaire through luck and relentless self-promotion, will get headlines and a full-page spread.

This mirrors the neglect by the federal government in funding university research, or encouraging the next generation to pursue science and maths, but then again, how many of us ever spend any time thinking about turning the lucky country into the smart country?
John Heywood, Camberwell


Rewarding our nurses

Stephen Duckett is rightly worried about the shortage of trained health staff to manage what looks to be a coming deluge of COVID-19 patients into our hospitals (Opinion, 10/9). It would be easier to engage new or retired nursing staff if nurses’ pay and working conditions were not so meagre.

A young nurse, “Anonymous” (Opinion, 2/9) told us how exhausting the work can be in full personal protective equipment, plus how low a first-year nurse’s pay is compared to that for a first-year paramedic, and how mean the conditions: for example, only the first three days of obligatory quarantine (after nursing a COVID-19 patient) being paid, the rest deducted from sick leave.

I seem to remember the slogan of a nurses’ union from long ago: “A nurse’s dedication doesn’t pay the rent”. We should be ready to pay really well for work that is difficult and dangerous – and crucial.
Freya Headlam, Glen Waverley

The right to our choice

Professor Ben Adler is, of course, free to boycott the Healesville establishment over its policy to allow entrance to all, whether COVID-19 vaccinated or not, if he wishes (Letters, 10/9). Equally, I am at liberty to boycott any pub or any business that refuses service based on medical status.

Of my friends, around half are vaccinated and half are not. I respect all their medical choices, whatever they are. We are all in agreement that if we cannot socialise together at a particular venue then it is not for us. Medical “apartheid” has no place in modern Australia.
Melanie Stafford, Altona

Right to some freedom

The Age’s COVID-19 location map shows that most of the south-eastern suburbs have very low rates of infection. So why are they in strict lockdown? Why are people there being penalised for what is occurring on the other side of the city?

The tight lockdown in areas with very few active cases should be eased. Outdoor activities should be permitted and outdoor pools should be opened. These south-eastern suburbs also have the highest rates of vaccination, which further reduces risk. Vaccinated people in areas of low infection should be allowed to pursue relatively safe activities. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
Danny Crossman, Hawthorn East

Discriminatory model

The spread of COVID-19 is predominantly happening in the northern and western suburbs. We are told that a major cause of this is the large number of low paid and casualised workers living in the area, compounded by cultural and language barriers. However, neither the federal nor state government is willing to take any responsibility for the economic model that depends on a casualised, low-paid and mobile workforce.
John Doherty, West Brunswick

So much uncertainty

Detailed plans for coming out of lockdown to provide certainty for business and others sounds reassuring. However, what actually eventuates is dependent on the uncertainty around what the virus is going to do next and the much greater variability of human behaviour.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North

They’ve waited too long

This week Scott Morrison told 38,000 Australians who are stranded overseas: “Thank you. I look forward to welcoming you home”. Your thanks is not enough, Mr Morrison. The Foreign Affairs Department needs to get Pfizer vaccines to these people, mainly in India and the United Kingdom, and bring them home to Australia on Qantas charter flights.
Ian Black, Essendon

More steps backwards

For those of us who have followed the fate of Afghan women, cheering every time a victory in favour of their gender was achieved – such as gaining the right to an education – suggestions by the Taliban that they will be banned from playing cricket is depressing news.
Dawn Evans, Geelong

Men out of control?

Is this insistence on covering up women in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan a confession that the men would lack sufficient self-control in the sexual urges department if they were to catch sight of an elbow or cheek?
Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West

They’ve earned a reward

It is really unfair that Olympic medallists who retire after the Tokyo Olympics will not receive a monetary bonus. They have trained for so many years and competed under very difficult circumstances to represent their country. Perhaps these athletes could at least be awarded a 50per cent bonus in recognition of their great achievement.
Margaret McNiel, Malvern

The things that matter

On the 20th anniversary of September 11, Timothy Lynch says the attacks were just “a flash in the pan” (Opinion, 10/9). We panicked unnecessarily, like those in the US. This is a crass comment on the day the trial begins in Paris of those accused of the murder of 130 people and the maiming of 416 others in Paris in November 2015.

Lynch warns us too that our “age of panic’ has led us to worry about threats that are “much less severe than people were prepared and allowed to admit”: he lists climate change, social injustice, and COVID-19. On the contrary, his hostility to what he sees as the evils of public campaigns and government initiative is symptomatic of the collapse in the US of a healthy civic culture about things that really do matter.
Peter McPhee, Abbotsford

Limiting the toxicity

The idea that (anti-) social media offers “public debate” (Editorial, 9/9) is laughable at best. It is a toxic cesspit of lies and malice. And it is not public. It only talks to those who use it and within that to self-validating, closed cohorts. Those who profit from it are understandably peeved, but arguing that their hands are clean because they only provided the gun and did not pull the trigger does not cut it any more, thank heavens. The High Court judgment – “Media loses Facebook appeal” (The Age, 8/9) – represents one small step towards limiting its toxicity and should be loudly applauded.
John Laurie, Riddells Creek

Rewarded – for what?

So this is success – “Former Crown chiefs get $9.7m golden handshake” (The Age, 10/9). Well done, all. I am sure you deserved your millions. Oops, I nearly forgot that these people ran the company which former NSW Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin said was unfit to hold the Sydney casino licence.
Pam Kershaw, Collingwood

Calling Crown to account

I agree with Elizabeth Knight that Crown’s termination gravy train needs to be derailed (Business, 10/9). I would like to know the reasons for such huge handouts for those four key executives. Shareholders received no dividend on both October 2020 and April 2021.

This implied that the company had not been making a profit for those years, yet they, the four executives, including Helen Coonan who served only part of the year as executive chairman, are rewarded with a large sum of money.
Daniel Chung, Beaumaris

A very essential service

Geoffrey Quinn (Letters, 9/9) asks what is “the necessity to keep the public transport system running after curfew”. Essential shift workers rely on trams and trains at midnight. Public transport drivers provide a service, and are experienced and reliable essential workers. Masks and social distancing are mandated. Uber is unaccountable and temporary.
David Russell, Coburg

Such easy predictions

Referring to the supply of Pfizer vaccines, Scott Morrison said, “There are a lot of heroes of hindsight at the moment out there” (The Age, 10/9). In 2030, when we have further floods, bushfires and cyclones, will he refer to the individuals who called it as “hindsight heroes”? His team seem to be more like Hogan’s.
Susan Drakeford, Middle Park

Move into modern world

Scott Morrison, “we” don’t mine coal and sell it overseas. Mining companies do. It is time you came out of the cave.
Trevor Martin, St Leonards


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Greg Hunt, just tell ’em the dog ate your Pfizer invitation.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

A road map is useless without a compass.
Shane McAlpine, Mount Eliza

Given the Premier will only let us travel five kilometres, Melburnians don’t need a road map.
Stephen Canterbury, Camberwell

Will the real Pfizer miser please stand up?
Ross Coulthard, Glen Iris

Re why public transport is running after curfew (9/9). I wonder why City Circle trams are running when we don’t have tourists.
Milly Macdougall, West Melbourne

To slightly misquote Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest: “Gladys, where are those vaccines?“
Rob Willis, Wheelers Hill

Thank you, Dyson (9/9). I’m not alone in looking for a shearer.
Roy Giesemann, Frankston


PM, obfuscation coupled with a vague response is not “answering the question”.
Emma Borghesi, Rye

Tony Abbott is in danger of losing his title as Australia’s worst ever PM.
Raelene Spencer, Croydon

No doubt businesses which have unfairly kept JobKeeper grants will make substantial donations to the Liberals.
Gael Barrett, North Balwyn


Departing Crown executives get $9.7 million golden handshakes (10/9). How many Cartier watches is that?
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura

Will Crown’s former executives donate some of their booty to Gamblers Anonymous?
Luise Mock, Tawonga South

Excellent point, Bill Burns (9/9). Minerals should belong to all Australians.
Peter O’Brien, Newport

The Taliban are showing their true colours. Whipping women (10/9) into submission is just the start.
Margaret Collings, Anglesea

If the Australian Cricket Board were an AFL or NRL club, Justin Langer would have already been sacked.
Anthony Clifford, Wendouree

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