Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New facility giving far north Queensland students a place to stay and learn

A new residential facility in Weipa is giving Indigenous students in far north Queensland a place to stay and learn while they complete secondary schooling.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today visited Weipa to officially open the Western Cape Residential Campus which will cater for up to 120 Indigenous students from far north Queensland Indigenous communities.

“The campus will make an enormous difference for children from remote Indigenous communities in far north Queensland, and the Australian Government is proud to have provided $26.7 million towards the construction of this project,” Ms Macklin said.

“Until now, children wanting to finish their schooling had to travel to places like Cairns, Townsville or Brisbane, but they will now be able to stay much closer to home and attend school in Weipa.”

This facility not only provides a place for the students to sleep and eat, but it also engages children before and after school. In addition, the care provided is responsive to the needs of the children and the wishes of their parents and communities.

“I want to thank Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa for gifting the land for the Residential campus and the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) for their work managing its design and construction. The ILC employed 19 indigenous people to work on the construction of the building.”

The Queensland Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek said the new facility addressed an important need in the local community.

“The Newman Government is committed to providing Queensland students with the best possible education experience and the Western Cape Residential Campus is another step towards that goal,” Mr Langbroek said.

“This campus will ensure that young people in remote communities in far north Queensland continue to be engaged and interested in their education.

“Local families can be assured that their children will have access to quality education opportunities that will equip them well into the future.”

Both the Australian and Queensland Governments are providing $2.5 million each to run the campus over the first five years of operation.

In addition, Ms Macklin announced that the Australian Government will provide more than $34,000 to the non-profit organisation Rare Earth Foundation to run a Western Cape Youth Summit.

The two-day summit will be held in Weipa in late June and will give young people from local Indigenous communities the chance to discuss the issues they face.

“This summit will give young people a chance to have a say on what’s important to them and will also help form youth councils in the communities,” Ms Macklin said.

“The summit will cover important issues like substance abuse, employment, social and emotional support and the risks of social media.

“We know the important role that young people play in Indigenous communities, and this summit will provide the opportunity to give them a voice.”