House debates

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Questions without Notice

Indigenous Australians

2:33 pm

Photo of Ken WyattKen Wyatt (Hasluck, Liberal Party, Minister for Indigenous Australians) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Wide Bay for his ongoing interest in the journey that young Indigenous Australians take not only through education but through their life, and for the work that he does within his electorate. The Morrison government is committed to delivering better futures for our Indigenous children and youth across this nation. The journey starts in the early childhood years and continues through to higher education. The Morrison government is investing around $230 million through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy in the 2019-20 budget to consolidate this important journey, because we know that the early years of a young person's life experience shape their journey in later life.

I just want to cite a couple of figures off the document I have in front of me. We are investing a record level of funding in schools, with $310.3 billion from 2018-19, including a $5.2 billion loading for Indigenous students, and $81.5 million for the Remote School Attendance Strategy, from which we are seeing outcomes occurring. We're ensuring that mentoring and residential facilities and pathways to complete secondary education are augmented with the Abstudy program—and you would be familiar with the $200 million Indigenous Youth Education Package that the Prime Minister announced in February.

Creating pillars for adults and young people into a journey is often manifested. Last night I had the privilege of being with the British High Commissioner when she announced three young Indigenous women who are heading off to the United Kingdom to study at Cambridge and Oxford. Those three are studying in fields that are very particular to their interests and what will make a difference when they come back to their communities and to Australia. We have been operating this program for 10 years. The journey is demonstrating the capability of young people. They become role models within their own communities when they come back. We are also investing a further $35 million to support Indigenous women and families experiencing violence and $2.5 million for e-safety.

There have been some important outcomes from all of this. As a result of our record investment, there has been a 60 per cent increase in retention rates from year 7-8 to year 12 in 2018 compared to 48.7 per cent in 2011. The other figure is an 8.1 per cent increase in the number of Indigenous students enrolled in university courses in 2017. That's a great outcome in the journey that will build the capacity of our communities. But more importantly is the 54 per cent increase in the number of Indigenous students taking VET pathways. This weekend I am going to Garma, along with many others, and I'm looking forward to hearing the voices of young people in what they express as the desires that they have as aspirations.

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