Standing up for Canberra

Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) (No. 2) 2013 I

The Indigenous Education Targeted Assistance Act is an important act. I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak on it in May this year and I am pleased to speak on it again today. The amendment bill that we are talking about today enables the delivery of programs that complement mainstream schooling, programs that encourage and reward improvements in school attendance, behaviour, academic achievement and effort. The amendment bill that we are debating today gives effect to the decision of the previous Labor government to better secure this important education funding for the future. The bill reflects Labor's ongoing commitment to ensuring that Indigenous students are supported in their school setting so that they are best able to achieve their potential and to ensure that the significant gap that still exists between the education results of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is closed.

The amendment bill will ensure that Indigenous students will continue to benefit from Labor's investment in targeted education and training programs beyond 2014 and well into the future. This change to the funding mechanism better aligns the programs under the act with similar payments and provides greater transparency and accountability.

If we are to close the gap between the education results of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, we must have continued investment in programs that we know can lift results. That is why it is so important for the Abbott government to honour its commitment to Labor's education reforms and to commit to the Gonski model of school funding that guarantees extra funding and extra loading for every Indigenous student across this country, no matter what school they attend.

I have witnessed in my electorate of Canberra how such targeted complementary programs such as those that are funded under the act can have a significant impact. In my electorate of Canberra there is a wonderful school called Richardson Primary School. About 20 per cent of the students at Richardson are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. This is the highest percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at any school in the ACT. The community of Richardson Primary School proudly celebrates its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity and culture, as does the whole of the Canberra electorate. Richardson Primary School embraces the inclusion of all Indigenous Australians in the school community and supports their hopes and aspirations.

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