House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021; Consideration in Detail

12:55 pm

Photo of Melissa McIntoshMelissa McIntosh (Lindsay, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

The wonderful work that Minister Wyatt is doing in his portfolio for Indigenous Australians is having a real impact on the ground in local communities, including in my electorate of Lindsay. Recently, the minister and I caught up with our local community and outreach organisations. The feedback we received was that, because of coronavirus, as our schools reopened, many of our kids weren't getting back to school and attendance rates had dropped. Minister Wyatt and I both share the same passion for education and we're working closely together to address these challenges to make sure more kids are going to school. I know the minister is working closely with all states and territories to ensure that our kids continue with their education so that they have the best start in life. As the local federal member, I want to ensure that our kids don't fall through the cracks and that they have as many opportunities as possible.

This week is NAIDOC Week, and at our local schools and across our community we're celebrating the contribution and culture of Indigenous Australians. But there is more that we must do to break down the barriers facing young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids, and education plays such a key role. Education not only improves quality of life, it unlocks opportunities to get a job, contribute to the community and find your calling. There is always more work that can be done, like reducing the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy, because we know that these are all key elements and fundamental to a good education. In saying that, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are exceeding national minimum standards, better positioning them to transition to further study and work. It's important we keep this momentum and encourage our communities to help our kids foster a lifelong love of learning.

In the budget we've committed $39.8 million over four years for the Clontarf Foundation to support young Indigenous students and improve their self-esteem, confidence and leadership skills. This funding will deliver an additional 2,000 places, above the 10,500 already on offer, and will have a direct impact on the education of Indigenous students that's so important as a foundation for their futures.

I spent time this week with the minister to talk about the importance of education, and the minister shared how education had made such a big difference in his own life. While we couldn't be there in person, we recorded a NAIDOC message to the students at Cambridge Park High School in my electorate of Lindsay to encourage our local kids to think about their future and what they want to do with their own education journeys and careers.

Minister Wyatt said that if he hadn't followed through on his education and didn't have those opportunities, he wouldn't be in this place. He spoke passionately about the teachers who had influenced him, even from year 1. This set the foundation from an early age to value his education. Minister Wyatt learned to value his education so much that he got a Bachelor of Education and became a teacher, passing on that lesson to his students, as he continues to do now.

Education plays such a pivotal role in putting kids in our community on pathways to local jobs. From educating our kids to supporting local businesses, we are paving the way to employ our kids in the jobs of the future. In October, Minister Wyatt launched a new Indigenous Business and Employment Hub in Western Sydney. The hub will help Indigenous businesses in Western Sydney make the connections they need to grow and sustain their business, and explore opportunities to create more jobs. They'll be able to connect directly to the knowledge and expertise they need through training, seminars and specific business growth support.

The Yarpa Hub is working with Indigenous businesses right across New South Wales across industries including construction, health and—one of my favourites—manufacturing. There are over 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in my community of Lindsay, from the students at Cambridge Park High School and right across our community. Education plays such a key role for their future.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Remainder of bill—by leave—taken as a whole and agreed to.

Bill agreed to.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.


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