Wednesday, 6 September 2017
Indigenous Literacy Day
I, and also on behalf of Senator McCarthy and Senator Dodson, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Indigenous Literacy Day is held on 6 September,
(ii) it is a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy,
(iii) on Indigenous Literacy Day attention is focused on the disadvantages experienced in remote communities, and Australians are encouraged to raise funds and advocate for more equal access to literacy resources for remote communities – events are held around the country,
(iv) only a quarter of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 91% for non-Indigenous students according to the 2016 NAPLAN,
(v) Indigenous 15-year-olds are, on average, about two-and-a-third years behind non-Indigenous 15-year-olds in reading literacy and mathematical literacy according to the 2017 Closing the Gap report,
(vi) the Closing the Gap report states that having literacy and numeracy skills opens doors in life and is an essential precursor to success in school, university and employment,
(vii) the target of halving the gap for Indigenous children in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade (by 2018) is not on track, according to the Closing the Gap report,
(viii) the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) reports that, in most of the remote communities in which it works, there are fewer than five books in family homes,
(ix) the ILF programs have shown that raising literacy levels starts at a community level with book supply, and that giving children under five the right books in their own language develops early literacy skills; and
(b) calls on the Government to:
(i) accelerate measures which will help facilitate reaching the literacy and numeracy target for Indigenous students by 2018, and
(ii) do more to help close the Indigenous literacy gap overall by supporting and complementing initiatives such as the ILF which supplies books to remote Indigenous communities and who also help those communities to tell their own stories in their own language.
The government is committed to closing the gap and ensuring all Indigenous Australians have access to a high-quality education. As part of our record schools funding, we're providing an estimated loading of $4.3 billion for Indigenous students. Through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy we're investing more than $250 million in over 1,000 Indigenous education projects. We acknowledge that states and territories are not doing enough to support Indigenous children to attend school, which is why we're delivering our Remote School Attendance Strategy. We will continue to support Indigenous education, including literacy, as a priority, while noting that school education is actually provided by state and territory governments.
Question agreed to.