Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Closing the Education Gap between Indigenous and Non Indigenous Australians

Joint Media Release with:

  • Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for Social Inclusion

The Rudd Government is committed to tackling the educational disadvantage of Indigenous Australians and has made this a key goal of its Education Revolution.

The 2008-09 Budget delivers on the range of the Rudd Government’s election commitments in Indigenous education.

These initiatives are a down payment on what will be sustained action to address Indigenous disadvantage.

They include:

  • A total of $56.4 million allocated over four years for the Building Strong Foundations Program to assist in the delivery of literacy and numeracy programs for underachieving Indigenous students as well as Individual Learning Plans.
  • $28.9 million over four years to build three new Indigenous boarding facilities in the Northern Territory.
  • $98.8 million over five years from 2007-08 to increase teacher numbers in the Northern Territory by 200 over the 2007-08 to 2011-12 period.

The 2008-09 Budget also provides for other initiatives as part of the ongoing Northern Territory Emergency Response:

  • The Rudd Government is investing $2.3 million in operational funding in 2008-09 for 10 new cr`eches in the Northern Territory.
  • To improve school attendance and engagement, $7.4 million will be provided in 2008-09 to continue providing breakfast and lunch to school-age children under the School Nutrition program.
  • The Budget provides $19.1 million in 2008-09 under the Enhancing Education initiatives including funds to continue professional development of teachers of Indigenous students.
  • Funding of $66.3 million in 2008-09 has been allocated to enhance employment opportunities (including through the provision of Community Employment Brokers) and continue to provide employment services to Indigenous job seekers who were previously on Remote Area Exemptions.

It is the Government’s goal that all Indigenous people should be able to participate fully in education, employment and society wherever they may be.

To this end, the Australian Government and state and territory governments have agreed to the following specific Indigenous education and employment targets:

  • within five years all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities will be able to attend a proper early childhood centre or opportunity;
  • within a decade the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy benchmark achievement will be halved;
  • within a decade the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians will be halved; and
  • by 2020 the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the attainment of Year 12, or its vocational equivalent, will be halved.

These Budget initiatives are about achieving a fairer Australia and ensuring governments at all levels deliver services that help tackle Indigenous disadvantage.