Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New early education target for Indigenous children

Joint Media Release with:

  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard

    Peter Garrett MP, Minister for School Education

The Gillard Government will build on its work to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage with a new closing the gap target to ensure Indigenous children are attending preschool or kindergarten.

The new target will drive efforts to ensure 90 per cent of enrolled Indigenous children across Australia attend a quality early childhood education program in the year before they start full-time school.

As a result of the Government’s unprecedented investments, our first Closing the Gap target – giving all Indigenous four-year-old children in remote communities access to early childhood education – will be met this year.

Achieving this target is an important step in closing the gap in educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

However, we know more needs to be done. Improving access to quality early childhood education must be followed with Indigenous children regularly attending preschool or kindergarten so they can get the best possible start in life.

Progress towards the new Closing the Gap target will be supported by the new National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education. The Australian Government will contribute $655.6 million over the next 18 months to fund its share of this National Partnership Agreement.

Setting this participation target will help focus governments’ efforts in early childhood education and drive sustained improvements in school readiness for Indigenous children across Australia.

The Prime Minister has written to all states and territories asking them to join the Australian Government in working towards this new target so all Indigenous children can benefit from the great start in life that a preschool or kindergarten program provides.

The Australian Government will also work with state and territory governments to ensure the new target becomes part of the overall COAG Closing the Gap framework, reported on annually in Parliament.

We are committed to the Closing the Gap targets because we know that previous haphazard approaches to ending Indigenous disadvantage have not been good enough.

The Closing the Gap targets commit all governments to an overarching framework and hold them accountable to specific targets. This, together with our unprecedented investment, is beginning to make a difference, but the Government recognises that this work will take time and continued effort.