Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

North Queensland boarding facility for disadvantaged Indigenous children

A new primary boarding school in North Queensland for young disadvantaged Indigenous children will receive a $2 million boost in Australian Government funding.

The purpose-built boarding school is expected to be completed by mid-2009 and will be part of Djarragun College, located near Gordonvale in North Queensland.

This boarding school will provide young Indigenous children with a controlled, disciplined environment where they can learn the basics.

Education provides the best start in life for any child and the Rudd Government is determined to increase school attendance and enrolment among Indigenous children.

The Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership is working with the Australian Government on the proposal, which will cost $7 million over four years.

The facility will provide high-quality education and foster care for around 50 children aged nine to 12 years who are at risk of abuse and neglect.

Half of the children will be subject to child protection orders and the other half will be referred voluntarily by their families.

Children with protection orders normally come under the responsibility of the Queensland Department of Child Safety. Respite parents will provide family-based care at the school site.

The facility would initially operate on a trial basis to gauge its effectiveness in improving the lives of disadvantaged Indigenous children.

Djarragun College, established in 2001, provides education and support for disadvantaged Indigenous young people.

It has a proven track record in Indigenous education and has onsite support services for students. Currently it has 550 students and around 100 of those are boarders.

Promoting economic participation, improving health and education outcomes and better engaging Indigenous people in developing solutions are key to the Government’s plan for closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.