Pyne’s Indigenous boarding school program can’t compensate for lost Gonski funding

29 April 2015

Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s announcement of an increase in funding for Indigenous boarding students is a poor substitute for the hundreds of millions of dollars he will rip out of needs-based Gonski funding, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the key to improving Indigenous students’ education results was investing resources in the schools they attended.

“Indigenous students will suffer disproportionately from the Abbott Government’s decision to abandon the last two years of Gonski funding agreements with the States,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“These agreements would have delivered extra resources to the most disadvantaged schools in Australia including those with high Indigenous populations.

“That equates to hundreds of teachers, support staff, speech pathologists and other specialists as well as literacy and numeracy programs that won’t be delivered to Indigenous students.

“We need to focus on delivering a quality education to all Indigenous students in their own communities, with input from those communities, and needs-based Gonski funding must be part of that.

“Boarding schools are not a universal solution, nor a substitute for educating Indigenous students in their home towns and communities.

“It is also a concern that this funding is not available to public schools who may wish to partner with Indigenous organisations to offer boarding programs in regional areas.

“The Abbott Government has no strategy to improve outcomes for Indigenous students, because it will not admit the damage that scrapping funding agreements will do.

“The 2015 Closing the Gap report found that there has been ‘limited progress’ in Indigenous educational results between 2008 and 2014, with significant declines in some areas.

“We cannot tolerate a situation where a majority of Indigenous students still fail to complete Year 12 and where Indigenous students in Year 9 are, on average, five years behind reading levels for high-income schools.

“These inequities will shape the rest of these students’ lives, and leave them with higher rates of unemployment, poverty and poor health.

“Improving the lives of Indigenous Australians must start with education. Giving Indigenous students an equal chance to reach their potential will take a major investment in schools.

The Abbott Government must address this by implementing fully funded needs based resourcing for schools, including the last two years of Gonski school funding agreements”.

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291