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

I rise to speak on the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2013. Richardson Primary School works in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents, students and staff to address disadvantage and injustices through quality educational practices and practical strategies. One of the strategies that has been implemented by Richardson Primary School, in partnership with the Canberra Institute of Technology, is an adult literacy program designed for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents in the Richardson Primary School community. The school community identified that improved literacy and numeracy within the parent community would have significant benefits for the students at school. With increased parental literacy, parents are better able to help students with their homework and reading and to engage in their child's curriculum. Many of the parents who participated in the program were job seekers and, as a result of their improved literacy and numeracy skills, several have found employment since completing the program. The benefits of this type of program have been immense.

Another successful initiative that is having a real impact is the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre. The AILC was founded by visionary Indigenous leaders in 2001 and has become one of the nation's pre-eminent Indigenous leadership education organisations. Based in Canberra, the centre specialises in place-based education, taking courses to where people need it, providing tailored, relevant education opportunities to Indigenous people. The centre's core business is Indigenous leadership. It delivers unique, empowering courses that provide knowledge, skills, networks and opportunities. These help Indigenous people from all walks of life to identify their true potential and then achieve it. The centre delivers a range of accredited and non-accredited courses in Indigenous leadership. Due to strong demand from employers and organisations across the country, it also delivers tailored courses in Indigenous governance and Indigenous diversity mentoring.

In 12 years of delivering high-quality Indigenous education programs designed to enhance the skills and capabilities of Indigenous people, the centre has demonstrated that the greatest efficiency in program delivery can be achieved after conducting a skills audit. A skills audit identifies skills that employers actually need and that Indigenous people do not have. The centre then tailors training packages so that its graduates acquire those skills that are directly relevant to workforce participation and long-term success in their careers.

The centre offers education programs that have clear and measurable employment outcomes, and also outcomes in community building, family functionality and workplace gain. Put simply, the centre's courses equip Indigenous people with the skills, knowledge, networks and opportunities that enable them to realise their full potential—an Indigenous solution that stands to benefit all Australians.

As proof of the success of these courses, the average increase in income for an individual after graduation from a centre course is a massive $13,877. Sixty per cent of graduates attributed getting a promotion to the completion of the centre's course. When comparing the centre with nine other leadership programs, a KPMG audit found that the centre offered better value than any competitors, smaller class sizes, lower class delivery costs, better retention rates, and that 93 per cent of graduates thought they were a better leader in professional life after the centre's course.

The centre is a wonderful initiative and I am proud that it is Canberra based. I commend Rachelle Towart, who is the CEO of the centre. Last week, the member for Berowra, the shadow minister and I had the pleasure of enjoying the annual event at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre in Canberra. It was a wonderful night and was a real tribute to what Rachelle is doing out there, getting those Aboriginal leaders trained up and participating in the workforce. It is great centre.

The programs that will be funded by the legislation we are talking about tonight will not be run in my electorate. However, having seen the success of the Richardson Primary School program and the AILC courses, I note that the programs that complement and support the goals of school education do have a significant impact.

Members of the House will be aware of my deep commitment to education. In my first speech and repeatedly since then I have spoken of how my own life and the lives of my sisters are testament to the truth that education is the great transformer. Education allowed me to escape the cycle of disadvantage and I completely understand and appreciate its importance fully. I am living proof of it. That is why I so strongly support Labor's education reforms, particularly in the area of Indigenous education. Labor is determined to close the gap between the educational results of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and is focused on investing in programs that we know can lift results. If we are to close the gap in education we must have continued investment in a range of programs that we know can lift rates and results.

Under our Better Schools funding reforms, every Indigenous student in the country will be entitled to guaranteed extra funding no matter what school they attend, and, under Labor, a total of $5.5 billion in public funding would have been directed to specifically support the nearly 200,000 Indigenous students in about 8,000 schools. Under Labor in the ACT, $40 million in new funding for Indigenous students was going into Canberra, benefiting around 1,400 students in 117 schools.

This bill reaffirms the Labor commitment to improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, families and communities. Those opposite must ensure that in every state and territory, not just the ones that signed up to the school funding model before the election, they follow through with Labor's commitment for loadings for Indigenous students, for remote students, and for the disadvantaged students that I have met in the years that I have been the member for Canberra. In fact, I implore the Abbott government to do so for the sake of equity, and for the sake of our children's future and the nation's future. The coalition must guarantee funding for education targets under the Closing the Gap framework and to develop the new closing the gap higher education target that the coalition supported before the election. I commend this bill to the House.

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