Extra funding critical for Indigenous boarding schools and students given government policy
The announcement of additional funding for Indigenous boarding schools by Education and Training Minister Christopher Pyne is positive but falls short of recognition by Federal and Territory governments that boarding options are the only option for students from remote communities.
Branch Secretary of the Independent Education Union Queensland and Northern Territory Branch, Terry Burke, said governments for economic reasons would not establish secondary schools in remote communities on the basis of community size.
“Students in these remote communities have no other choice but to attend boarding schools,” Mr Burke said.
“Boarding schools catering for students from remote communities should receive considerable additional funding and support to enable their right to access an education and other opportunities for learning.
“These students also require significant support from their schools given the great distance many are located from their families and communities – this too must be clearly recognised by the government when it comes to funding.
“The Federal Minister would have us believe that the government is providing assistance to these students, when in fact, by nature of their own policy they provide no alternative to them, putting greater financial pressure on families and communities who are already some of the most disadvantaged in the country.
“Any additional funding is always welcome but clearly there is much more to be done as even this announcement will see only ‘non-government schools with more than 50 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander boarding students – or 50 per cent or more – from remote or very remote areas’ eligible for funding.
“While the Minister claims the funding will help ensure these students “have access to the same opportunities as other Australian students”, the gap in educational access and outcomes won’t be closed until a wide range of economic and social issues in remote communities are addressed over a longer term by governments.
“Additional funding for our resource-poor Indigenous boarding schools is but a small step in achieving equity and fairness in education for all Australians,” Mr Burke said.