Senate debates

Thursday, 20 June 2013


Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment Bill 2013; Second Reading

1:56 pm

Photo of Nigel ScullionNigel Scullion (NT, Country Liberal Party, Deputy Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

We will support this bill and, of course, the coalition is committed to closing the gap. We have all committed to ending the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians across the six Closing the Gap measures which we would all be familiar with. But we should also reflect on some of the more sophisticated and larger indicators. The breakdown of one of those indicators is the NAPLAN indicator in education. Quite clearly, whilst we are assured that things are going quite well across the six measures, and whilst that might be a cornerstone of any involvement, the significant involvement, of course, is education. Between 2011 and 2012, in 14 out of the 20 assessment programs in literacy and numeracy, Indigenous education across the board was in fact going backwards. If we look at some of those indicators we will see that the average gap between Indigenous education outcomes and mainstream outcomes is 23.8 per cent, 37.5 per cent remotely, 61.1 per cent in very remote areas and the shocking 80.8 per cent in very remote schools in the Northern Territory.

At a higher level, we can say that one of those six indicators is the number of people who complete year 12. In year 5 reading in very remote NT schools, only 8.6 per cent of students actually meet the national average, so in seven years time, by year 12, those students will not show up there. With only 8.6 per cent of them meeting the national average, the remaining 90-plus per cent of students will not make it and will never have access to the opportunities that so many other children simply take for granted.

So, whilst we think this is an important bill, it is also important that most of these processes are about providing for additional funding, but that additional funding is only over one year. So what sort of security of tenure does this give in ensuring that the programs will have a real effect against some of the changes, for example, in how we approach our funding with Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory?

Debate interrupted.