Bills Digest No. 20   1997-98 Indigenous Education (Supplementary Assistance) Amendment Bill 1997


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WARNING:
This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

CONTENTS

Passage History

Indigenous Education (Supplementary Assistance) Amendment Bill 1997

Date Introduced: 18 June 1997
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs
Commencement: Royal Assent

Purpose

To amend the Indigenous Education (Supplementary Assistance) Act 1989 (Cwlth) (the Principal Act) in order to:

  • remove the requirement that at least 10% of enrolled students be Indigenous students before certain educational and training institutions can be funded under the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Programme; and
  • provide for the cost supplementation of certain grants under the Act.

Background

Indigenous education has been the subject of a large number of national reports during the past twenty years - beginning with a 1975 report by the Aboriginal Consultative Group to the Schools Commission. Most recently there was a National Review of Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples chaired by Mandawuy Yunupingu. The review was established in 1993 and reported in 1994.(1)

In 1988, an Aboriginal Education Policy Task Force was appointed by the Minister for Employment, Education and Training and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. The Task Force's report proposed the establishment of a national Aboriginal Education Policy (AEP). The AEP (now called the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy) was developed co-operatively by the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories in 1989 and emphasised 'involvement, access, participation and outcomes.' The importance of the Policy has been described in these terms:

... for the first time, the States and the Territories were able to identify and unanimously support a series of national goals for indigenous education; the Policy facilitated many new initiatives that created a national focus on indigenous education and raised the profile of the issue; the Policy was based on a triennial funding model enabling, for the first time, longer term planning for programs; and the national Policy included a supplementary funding program, the Aboriginal Education Strategic Initiatives Scheme, to fill the gaps in the programs of the States and Territories.'(2)

The establishment of the Policy was followed by the enactment of the Aboriginal Education (Supplementary Assistance) Act 1989 which provides funds for what is now called the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Program (IESIP).

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy has four long term objectives:

  • increasing the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in educational decision making;
  • ensuring equality of access to educational services;
  • achieving equity of educational participation; and
  • enabling equitable and appropriate education outcomes.

The NATIEP also sets down 21 agreed goals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education covering all education sectors, to be pursued by all governments. The policy was re-affirmed by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs in 1995.

IESIP is part of the Commonwealth's contribution to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy. It provides funds to organisations and institutions to supplement the cost of delivering educational services to Aboriginal people. The program supports pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, and technical and further education. The funding is provided by the Commonwealth as a supplement to the normal provision of funds for education to the States and Territories.

Educational Participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The National Review of Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples reported in 1994 that educational experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples improved 'in the last five years'. However, the Review found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continued to be 'the most educationally disadvantaged groups in Australia.' Among other things, the Review's Summary and Recommendations states that:

  • 'while the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australian 4 year olds preschool participation has almost halved, it remains significant at 9.5 per cent,(3)
  • in all but two States/Territories there appears to be increasing levels of participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in primary school education. The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children now commence and complete a primary school education,
  • 'significant numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary school students do not complete compulsory Years 8 or 9. An estimated 25 per cent or more of those who start secondary school leave before the end of Year 10.'(4)
  • 'Nationally, just over 25 per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who started Year 7 or 8 five or four years ago (depending on the State or Territory) were enrolled in Year 12 in 1993. ... Despite the concerted efforts of the last decade to raise Year 12 retention rates for all Australian students, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students' current Year 12 retention rate is now what it was for all Australian students more than twenty years ago.'(5)

Indigenous Education (Supplementary Assistance) Amendment Bill 1997

In 1996, the Principal Act was amended by the Indigenous Education (Supplementary Assistance) Amendment Act 1996 (the 1996 Act). Among other things, the 1996 Act provided statutory criteria for funding for supplementary recurrent expenditure to certain schools, pre-schools and other institutions. Eligibility criteria and formulae to be applied to determine a per capita amount for each educational sector were inserted by sections 10B to 10F.(6) Section 10A sets out a per capita funding table.

Amendments included in the Indigenous Education (Supplementary Assistance) Amendment Bill 1997 relate to certain non-government schools(7) and non-government VET institutions(8) which are covered by sections 10D, 10E and 10F. The amendments in the 1997 Bill relate to the eligibility criteria which must be satisfied before the Minister can authorise a payment to those schools and institutions. According to the Explanatory Memorandum:

The non-government Schools Census shows that out of a total of 10,853 Indigenous students enrolled in non-government schools, 1,428 (13%) of these students attend non-systemic schools in which the Indigenous enrolments are less than 10% of the total enrolment. There is one school, for example, which has 70 Indigenous students out of a total enrolment of more than 700 and does not attract supplementary recurrent per capita funding because it fails the 10% requirement.(9)

Main Provisions

Schedule 1 of the Bill relates to the funding of education for Indigenous students. Item 1 of Schedule 1 repeals paragraph 10D(1)(c) of the Principal Act. Paragraph 10D(1)(c) provides that the Minister may authorise a payment for a funding year for a non-government non-systemic school if a number of criteria are met. At present, these criteria include a requirement that the Indigenous students enrolled for a year at the school number 20 or more and constitute 10% or more of the total number of students.

Item 1 repeals present paragraph 10D(1)(c) and replaces it with new paragraph 10D(1)(c) which removes the 10% requirement but retains the requirement that the number of Indigenous students at the school number 20 or more.

Item 2 of Schedule 1 repeals paragraph 10E(1)(c) of the Principal Act. At present, paragraph 10E(1)(c) provides that the Minister may authorise a payment to a non-systemic non-government pre-school for a funding year if a number of criteria are met. These criteria include a requirement that Indigenous students enrolled for a year at the school number 5 or more and constitute 10% or more of the total number of students at the school. Item 2 of Schedule 1 inserts new paragraph 10E(1)(c) which removes the 10% requirement but retains the requirement that the number of Indigenous students at the school must number 5 or more.

Item 3 of Schedule 1 repeals paragraph 10F(1)(c). Present paragraph 10F(1)(c) provides that the Minister may authorise funding to a non-government VET institution if a number of criteria are met. These include that the Indigenous students at the institution number 20 or more and constitute 10% of the enrolled students at the institution. Item 3 inserts new paragraph 10F(1)(c) which removes the 10% requirement but retains the requirement that the number of Indigenous students at the institution number 20 or more.

The Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill states that:

The 10% requirement has had the unforeseen and undesired consequence of denying supplementary financial assistance from the Commonwealth to educational institutions with significant Indigenous enrolments. ... The 10% requirement is not necessary given the continuation of the additional requirement of the principal [sic] Act that the relevant educational institutions have a minimum number of Indigenous students ...(10)

Schedule 2 of the Bill relates to cost supplementation. Item 1 of Schedule 2 inserts new section 13C which has the effect of enabling appropriations under the Principal Act to be supplemented by an indexed amount which is to be fixed by regulation.

Item 2 of Schedule 2 inserts new section 15 into the Principal Act. New section 15 enables the Governor-General to make regulations under the Act.

Endnotes

  1. National Review of Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Summary and Recommendations; Final Report; Statistical Annex; (3 vols.), AGPS, Canberra, 1994.
  2. Schwab, RG Twenty years of policy recommendations for indigenous education: overview and research implications, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Discussion Paper, No.92/1995, Australian National University, Canberra.
  3. National Review of Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Summary and Recommendations, AGPS, Canberra, September 1994: 22.
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid: 23.
  6. These sections covered the funding of government educational institutions,. systemic non-government schools and pre-schools, non-systemic non-government schools and pre-schools and non-government VETs.
  7. Non-systemic schools can be contrasted with systemic schools. Systemic schools are schools belonging to a system administered by a central authority responsible for their funding and overall policy. Such schools are declared to be part of an approved school system by the Minister ... for the purposes of funding legislation.' (see Jackson, K Commonwealth Grants for Non-Government Schools in the States, 1976 to 1981: By Federal Electoral Division and School. Basic Paper No.3, Legislative Research Service, Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1983. Catholic parochial schools are an example of systemic non-government schools. 'Non-systemic schools are simply those schools which are not part of a school system. It should be noted that not all Catholic schools are systemic schools.' (Ibid).
  8. A 'VET' is a vocational educational and training institution.
  9. page 2.
  10. ibid.

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Jennifer Norberry
28 August 1997
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1328-8091
Commonwealth of Australia 1997

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 29 August 1997



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