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Joint Media Release
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator Nigel Scullion
Senator for the Northern Territory
Charles Darwin University, Australia
20 November 2006
Kakadu National Park is to be the first park in Australia to insist on professional training for its tour guides, with all guides required to complete a new nationally accredited training course by April 2008.
Kakadu's traditional owners, park staff and the tourism industry have worked with Charles Darwin University, to use cutting edge new media so that would-be guides can gain professional qualifications no matter where they live in Australia.
"This is a fantastic breakthrough for the tourism industry, which has long wanted professional standards but has been defeated by the costs of bringing trainees to Kakadu," Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, said today.
"With e-learning, trainees can learn about Kakadu's environment and rich Indigenous culture via CD-Rom and the internet. Professionally trained guides will offer visitors new levels of visitor safety and informed commentary on Kakadu's World Heritage landscapes, plants and wildlife and a culture dating back tens of thousands of years."
Senator for the Northern Territory Nigel Scullion hailed the e-learning course as a groundbreaker for the tourism industry.
"We all remember the tragic death of the German tourist, Isobel von Jordan, and the conviction of the tour guide who allowed her to swim in crocodile waters," Senator Scullion said.
"The coronial inquest praised Kakadu for its warning signs, its permit system and its exemplary ranger work, but called for all Territory parks to implement new professional standards.
"I'm delighted that Kakadu is leading the way in developing a new professional tour guide industry and I look forward to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park following very soon."
The Australian Government has invested $200,000 over the past 18 months to develop the new CDU course, including $50,000 in seed funding from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.
"This flexible learning means guides will be able to work at their own pace, enjoying the latest interactive audio and visual tools, but with print materials available for those with no computer access, " CDU e-line trainer Ian Hutton said.
"The training and assessment will give tour guides the knowledge and confidence to deliver information that is accurate, culturally sensitive and informative."
The entry-level training will cost $170, after subsidies from the Northern Territory Government through the VET system. In addition, Tourism NT is providing $10,000 over 18 months to cut the costs for the first Kakadu and Uluru trainees.
"We are offering a $70 rebate to participants who are among the first to enrol and successfully complete the training and assessment," Tourism NT Chief Executive, Maree Tetlow, said.
"We're looking forward to a higher standard of guided tours and an increased recognition of tour guiding as a profession so that visitors experience to the full all these World Heritage parks have to offer."
For more information, visit http://learnline.cdu.edu.au/wip/kakadu/
John Deller (Mr Hunt's office) on 0400 496 596
Peter Cain (Senator Scullion's office) on 0428 839 383
Ron Banks (Charles Darwin University) on 08 8946 6019
Tanya Hancock (Tourism NT) on 08 8999 3907