Bills Digest no. 65 2007–08
Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment
(2008 Measures No. 1) Bill 2008
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Contact officer and copyright details
Indigenous Education (Targeted
Assistance) Amendment (2008 Measures No. 1) Bill
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Education, Employment and Workplace
relevant links to the Bill, Explanatory Memorandum and second
reading speech can be accessed via BillsNet, which is at http://www.aph.gov.au/bills/.
When Bills have been passed they can be found at ComLaw, which is
The Bill amends the
Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Act 2000 (the
Act) to provide funding for 50 additional teachers in 73 Indigenous
communities in the Northern Territory in 2008.
Commonwealth assistance to
Indigenous education is provided through the Indigenous
Education (Targeted Assistance) Act 2000. The current Act
provides quadrennium funding for the years 2005 2008, primarily for
the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Programme
The Labor Government s policy on Indigenous Affairs is focussed
on closing the substantial gaps that exist between the
socio-economic outcomes of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous
population. This is not dissimilar to the former Coalition
Government s emphasis on practical reconciliation measures. However
the Labor Government envisions such practical measures not as a
substitute for the symbolic gestures of reconciliation but rather
as following them. In the Prime Minister s speech on the apology he
Australians are a passionate lot. We are also a
very practical lot. For us, symbolism is important but, unless the
great symbolism of reconciliation is accompanied by an even greater
substance, it is little more than a clanging gong. It is not
sentiment that makes history; it is our actions that make history.
Today s apology, however inadequate, is aimed at righting past
wrongs. It is also aimed at building a bridge between Indigenous
and non-Indigenous Australians a bridge based on a real respect
rather than a thinly veiled contempt. Our challenge for the future
is now to cross that bridge and, in so doing, embrace a new
partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians the
core of this partnership for the future is to closing the gap
between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on life
expectancy, educational achievement and employment opportunities.
This new partnership on closing the gap will set concrete targets
for the future: within a decade to halve the widening gap in
literacy, numeracy and employment outcomes and opportunities for
Indigenous children, within a decade to halve the appalling gap in
infant mortality rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
children and, within a generation, to close the equally appalling
17-year life gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous when it
comes when it comes to overall life expectancy.
During the election campaign in November 2007 the Australian
Labor Party announced a range of proposed measures to improve
education opportunities for Indigenous students including a promise
to increase Indigenous children s attendance at school by funding
$60.6 million over four years for 200 additional teachers for the
Northern Territory .
The Bill appropriates funding for 50 of the additional 200
teachers. In her second reading speech the Minister, the Hon. Julia
Gillard, announced that additional funding of $56.8 million will be
appropriated in subsequent Acts to provide for the total 200 extra
teachers in the calendar years 2008 2011.
Recruitment and retention of teachers will be the responsibility
of Northern Territory government and non-government education
providers. Northern Territory government initiatives to recruit and
retain teachers in remote areas include remote area allowances,
subsidised housing and travel expenses.
The measure adds to the $16.0 million in administered expenses
for extra teacher workforce capacity and classrooms appropriated
from the Education, Science and Training portfolio in 2007 as part
of the former Government s Northern Territory Emergency
There are 13,792 Indigenous school age (age 5-15) children in
the Northern Territory. The Government estimates that 10,000 of these students
live in the 73 remote communities affected by the Northern
Territory Emergency Response but only 8,000 are enrolled at school
and a further 2,500 enrolled students do not attend school for
sufficient time to benefit from their educational experience
. An increase in
attendance is anticipated due to the Northern Territory Emergency
Response measure that allows the imposition of an Income Management
Regime (IMR) if a person s child is subject to the unsatisfactory
attendance at school situation .
School attendance is vital if the literacy and numeracy outcomes
of Indigenous students are to be improved sufficiently to halve the
gap in the literacy and numeracy results of Indigenous and
non-Indigenous students. The most recent National Report to
Parliament on Indigenous Education and Training states that:
In 2005, the gap between Indigenous and All
students ranged from 14 percentage points in Year 3 numeracy to 33
percentage points in Year 7 numeracy, with less than half (49%) of
Indigenous students meeting this benchmark.
The Indigenous scores in 2005 are lower than the
2004 scores on eight of the nine benchmarks, and in eight of the
nine cases the gaps between Indigenous and All students outcomes
widened between the two years.
With seven years of data available, there is
little evidence of sustained overall improvement in the benchmark
areas. Gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous outcomes have
tended to widen and to increase with the age of the
Furthermore students living in remote and very remote areas of
Australia achieved the benchmarks at significantly lower rates than
other students. Many of these students will be those enrolled in
schools in the 73 Northern Territory communities.
The Bill will increase appropriations under the Act by $7.162
million over the 2008 programme year.
Schedule 1 amends subsection 14A (1) of the current Act to
reflect the additional funding of $7.162 million for the period 1
January 2008 to 30 June 2009.
The Bill partially implements the Government s policy aimed at
providing access to education for Indigenous students and working
towards halving the gap in literacy, numeracy and employment
outcomes. However although the Bill s funding measure is aimed at
school age children in remote Northern Territory communities, the
student outcomes reported from other parts of remote Australia
suggest that targeted initiatives will also be needed beyond the
20 February 2008
Bills Digest Service
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