The Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP has recommitted to the Closing the Gap targets under the National Indigenous Reform Agreement between the Australian Government and state and territory governments. These targets include a focus on access to education; school attendance; improving reading, writing, and numeracy; and finishing school.
A good education is essential for a good future and that starts with making sure children and young people go to school every day. State and territory governments have agreed to a range of measures through the Council of Australian Governments to improve Indigenous school attendance. These measures include publishing twice-yearly data on school attendance for all students and additional support, such as school attendance officers, to ensure children attend school.
Although school education and training is the responsibility of state and territory governments, there is a range of work underway within the Australian Government education portfolio to support Indigenous students and families, including:
- new needs based school funding arrangements, an estimated $219.75 million has been committed in Commonwealth recurrent funding in 2015 for the Indigenous student loading which will assist schools to provide additional support for students.
- $5.4 million over two years announced on 29 April 2015 for non-government schools with more than 50 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander boarding students (or 50 per cent or more) from remote or very remote areas. This is in addition to the $6.2 million provided in 2014, bringing the Government’s total commitments under the initiative to $11.6 million. Schools do not need to apply for the funding. The department will be contacting potentially eligible schools later in the year.
- $22 million over four years to the Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary School Programme to address the disparity in literacy outcomes of children in remote primary schools and their metropolitan peers through the delivery of two proven literacy teaching approaches (Direct Instruction and Explicit Instruction). Although the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live in metropolitan areas, there is a higher population density of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote locations.
The Government is also taking actions under the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014 which has a specific focus on school attendance.