Closing the Gap
The Australian Government and state and territory governments are committed to the Closing the Gap targets. These targets include:
- increasing participation in early childhood education
- improving school attendance
- improving reading, writing and numeracy
- making sure students finish school.
While there have been some encouraging improvements in the educational achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, such as improved levels of Year 12 attainment, the gap persists in other educational outcomes.
With the tenth anniversary of Closing the Gap and the expiry of four targets in 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to work together, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, to refresh the Closing the Gap agenda.
The Government provides needs-based recurrent funding to support all students, including a dedicated funding loading which provides additional funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
While the Government makes a significant financial contribution to education and provides national policy leadership, the states and territories are ultimately responsible for delivering school education and ensuring access to quality education within their jurisdictions.
- the Australian Government will grow its record level of recurrent funding for schools from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $30.6 billion in 2027
- the Australian Government will invest a record $247.2 billion for school recurrent funding, including about $4.3 billion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through the loading
- Australian Government funding provided through the loading will rise from $962.6 million between 2014–17 to about $1.4 billion over 2018–21, an increase of 48.5 per cent
- In 2018, this additional funding will benefit an estimated 213,504 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students.
School funding and reform
The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, chaired by Mr David Gonski AC, has been established to advise on how the extra Australian Government funding should be invested to improve the quality of Australia's schools and grow student achievement.
From 2018, the growing investment in schools will be tied to the implementation of evidence-backed quality reforms that have been proven to lift student achievement. The findings of the review, combined with the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education, will inform a new national schooling agreement between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments.
The new national schooling agreement will include reforms that have been proven to improve access and educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be consulted on reforms that will affect them.
The Australian Government has been working with states and territories on the School Funding and Reform Principles (the Principles), which will form the basis of an interim agreement for the 2018 school year.
The Principles outline how the Australian Government and the states and territories will continue to progress and implement existing national reforms agreed by the Education Council, including the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy 2015. The government is committed to having a national agreement in place by the end of 2018.
Reconciliation Australia supports schools and early learning services across Australia to develop environments that foster a higher level of knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions through the Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning program (Narragunnawali).