Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Indigenous Boarding Facilities in NT to Help Close the Gap

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon. Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for Social Inclusion, Deputy Prime Minister

The Rudd Government today announced the short listed locations for three new boarding facilities in the Northern Territory to provide better school access for remote Indigenous students.

The short list includes the regions of regions of Wadeye, Warlpiri Triangle, East Arnhem and Maningrida. Extensions to existing facilities in locations such as Tennant Creek or Katherine will also be considered, should funding permit.

The announcement was made at the Yirrkala Community Cabinet meeting. It signals the first step in the delivery of the Government’s pre election promise to build three new boarding facilities in the Northern Territory.

Northern Territory Education Minister, Marion Scrymgour, MLA, strongly supported the establishment of boarding facilities in communities in a recent statement, Transforming Indigenous Education.

The Rudd Labor Government has committed $28.9 million over four years, together with a $15 million capital contribution from the Indigenous Land Corporation.

This is an important step in meeting the Government’s commitment to at least halve the gap for Indigenous students in Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates by 2020.

The new facilities will provide more than 150 beds across a range of accommodation styles. They will support improved access to quality schooling and better education outcomes for Indigenous secondary school students. The first of the facilities is expected to be completed in 2009 with the remaining two built in 2010.

The Australian Government is working closely with the NT Government and Catholic Education Office on the initiative. This collaborative approach will continue into the next stage, with community consultations an important next step. The Government will only build these facilities where there is strong support from communities.

The Australian Government and Northern Territory authorities will engage in close consultation with the communities in the short listed locations. Government officials will visit communities to explain the initiative, listen to community views and answer questions.

Following community consultations, and with the support of relevant communities and key stakeholders, feasibility studies will be commissioned to address issues such as likely student demand, community infrastructure needs, social and cultural expectations of the feeder communities, costs, timeframes and sustainability. Only after the consultation is completed will final decisions be made on locations.