Indigenous Education (Targeted
Assistance) Amendment (2008 Budget Measures) Bill
introduced: 29 May
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 purpose of the Bill is to
amend the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Act
2000 ( the Act ) to appropriate an additional $8.35 million to
fund two Budget measures: an expansion of intensive literacy and
numeracy programs and the building of three boarding facilities for
Indigenous secondary students in the Northern Territory.
Commonwealth assistance to
Indigenous education is provided through the Indigenous
Education (Targeted Assistance) Act 2000. The Act provides
quadrennium funding for the years 2005 2008, primarily for the
Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Programme (IESIP).
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. In the Prime Minister s speech on the apology to
Indigenous Australians he stated:
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
During the election campaign in November 2007 the Australian
Labor Party announced a range of measures to improve education
outcomes of Indigenous students including a promise to expand
intensive literacy and numeracy programs in our schools the
development of individual learning plans for Indigenous students
and [to] invest in building three new secondary boarding colleges
in the Northern Territory at a total cost of $40.9 million over
four years .
The 2008 09 Budget provides funding to meet these promises. The
two measures funded in the Bill are part of a package of 37
measures in various portfolios grouped under the Budget measure
Closing the gap for Indigenous Australians with total funding of
$718.7 million over five years.
The Budget measure Closing the Gap contribution to Indigenous
boarding colleges will provide $28.9 million over four years
towards the construction and operation of three new boarding
colleges for Indigenous secondary school students in the Northern
Territory. An additional $15.0 million toward the construction
costs will be provided by the Indigenous Land Corporation.
This is not unlike the previous Coalition government s policy.
In the 2007 08 Budget measure A Better Future for Indigenous
Australians opportunities for education an additional $65.3 million
was provided over the three years 2006 07 to 2008 09 to repair and
replace existing non-government boarding schools in remote and
The boarding school initiatives of both the former and present
government aims at enabling Indigenous students in remote locations
to complete their secondary schooling and improve the retention
rates of Indigenous students. Although the apparent retention rates
for Indigenous students from Year 7/8 to Year 12 increased in 2007
by 2.8 percentage points to 42.9 per cent they remained much lower
than for non-Indigenous students (75.6 per cent).
The Budget measure Closing the Gap expansion of intensive
literacy and numeracy programs and individual learning plans
provides $56.4 million over four years most of which will come from
the redirection of funds from the 2007 08 Budget measure Realising
Our Potential Summer Schools for Teachers Program .
The Government aims to halve the gap in the literacy and
numeracy results of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students within a
decade. 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.
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
The Bill will increase appropriations under the Act by $8.35
million. The Explanatory Memorandum states that after
supplementation is applied an additional $9.05 million will be
available to implement the two Budget measures. However the
Minister s second reading speech states the $8.35 million when
indexed will amount to $9.050 million in 2008 prices .
Schedule 1, item 1 amends
subsection 14A(1) to reflect the additional funding of $8.35
million for the period 1 January 2008 to 30 June 2009.
The Bill will provide funding to meet election promises on
Indigenous education aimed at closing the gap in educational
outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The
comparatively small appropriation reflects the quadrennium funding
arrangements. Although the Budget commits $85.3 million over four
years to these two measures, the funds appropriated by this Bill
will go into the current quadrennium, and the Explanatory
Memorandum states they are intended to cover the period 1 July 2008
to 31 December 2008.
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