THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
GOVERNMENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT ON INDIGENOUS EDUCATION
Labor welcomes any support to improve access to education for Indigenous Australians.
A high-quality education is the right of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child. But the Government’s announcement today only seems to commit funding for the few children who are able to access specialist programs.
Northern Territory students, including many Indigenous children, are up to three school years behind students in the rest of Australia. Indeed, Northern Territory students are the most disadvantaged in the country.
So it’s difficult to understand why Malcolm Turnbull’s new schools funding policy gives the Northern Territory the least help. Over the next two years alone, Mr Turnbull is cutting $80 million from Northern Territory schools.
If the Government is serious about improving educational opportunities for Indigenous Australians, it should also reconsider its substantial cut to the successful Higher Education Participation and Partnerships (HEPP) program.
The HEPP program supports people from disadvantaged backgrounds to go to university. During the last Labor government, it helped boost Indigenous student numbers by 26 per cent.
While Labor welcomes $40 million for programs to support Indigenous boys to participate in school, sadly the Government’s announcement only delivers $13 million to programs for girls.