Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New boarding school for Weipa in 2012

Joint Media Release with:

  • Cameron Dick MP, Queensland Minister for Education and Industrial Relations

The Australian and Queensland governments today announced a new residential boarding facility in Weipa on Queensland’s western Cape York will open in 2012.

The 120-bed Western Cape Residential Campus will provide much-needed accommodation for Indigenous secondary students who are living away from home to study.

In its first year of operation, it is expected up to 60 students will board at the facility.

Queensland Education Minister Cameron Dick said the state’s Department of Education and Training would operate the new campus.

“This new campus will provide quality residential care for students, who may currently travel great distances to board at schools on the east coast,” Mr Dick said.

Federal Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the Western Cape Residential Campus would provide a home away from home for Indigenous students from communities across Far North Queensland.

“This campus will give Indigenous secondary students from across Far North Queensland the opportunity to go to school closer to home,” Ms Macklin said.

“Currently students often travel hundreds of kilometres away to Cairns, Townsville and Brisbane to attend school. This can be very isolating, especially for young people who are unable to return home regularly due to long distances.”

Ms Macklin said she hoped the new campus would encourage more young people across Far North Queensland to stay at school and get an education.

The Australian Government has provided more than $30 million to build the new facility, as well as providing $2.5 million to the Queensland Government towards operation costs.

The Indigenous Land Corporation has been funded by the Australian Government to project manage the construction of the facility and will own the facility on behalf of the Australian Government.

Ms Macklin said the new campus would also provide new employment opportunities for local people in Weipa through jobs such as house parenting, cleaning, laundry services, grounds maintenance and tutoring. Up to 13 positions will be available next year, building to 21 positions by 2016.

Mr Dick said the Queensland Government was also providing $2.5 million over five years to operate the new campus as well as committing teaching resources.

“This will be the third boarding facility operated by the department, with others already existing at Spinifex College in Mount Isa and Dalby.”

Mr Dick said the facility was part of a Queensland Government commitment to improving literacy and numeracy achievement, and Year 12 attainment rates by providing greater opportunities for students to access quality secondary education facilities in larger regional centres.

State Member for Cook Jason O’Brien welcomed the announcement saying it broadened education opportunities for students in Cape York.

“This is great news for students and families right across Cape York,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Situating the Residential Campus in Weipa will help more students from remote communities make the transition to secondary school.

“It underlines the Bligh Government’s commitment to giving all Queensland students a first-class education.”

The boarding facility is expected to open in the first half of 2012.