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Australia: $2 Billion For Aboriginal Education


AUSTRALIA PROVIDES AUD2 BILLION FOR ABORIGINAL EDUCATION

The Australian Government will provide AUD2.1 billion for aboriginal education for 2005-2008 - an increase of AUD381.5 million - or 22.3 per cent over the current four year period.

Announcing the new funding, the Education Minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, said the move was aimed at strengthening educational programmes for the benefit of indigenous Australians.

The AUD2.1 billion allocation followed the recent passing of the Government's legislation of the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment Bill.

"These programmes have been significantly restructured in order to redirect funding to initiatives that have been demonstrated to work; to direct a greater weighting of resources to students in remote areas; and to leverage mainstream funding for indigenous education purposes," Dr Nelson said.

He said that the legislation, passed by parliament recently, also implemented key election promises and provided a strengthened performance standard to ensure that real progress was made in addressing aborigines educational disadvantage.

"Government funding is supplementary to other mainstream funds and is intended for strategic interventions to improve the standard of Indigenous education," he said.

New Strengthened Initiatives included:

The Indigenous Education Direct Assistance Programme (IEDA) which provided targeted assistance directly to indigenous students, school-based indigenous parent committees and education institutions to improve outcomes. Total funding for IEDA for 2005-2008 will be AUD280.9 million, an increase of AUD20.7 million - or 8 Per cent - over the previous four-year funding period.

The newly reshaped IEDA programme will consist of two core elements: Better Targeted Tuition Assistance: The Government would provide AUD179 million over the next four years to ensure that indigenous students can access high quality tutorial assistance at key stages of their education.

This includes:

- AUD105.5 million for in-class tutorial assistance targeted to those students not meeting the Year 3, 5 and 7 literacy and numeracy national benchmarks. It was estimated that more than 45,000 aboriginal students will benefit from the additional assistance over 2005-2008.

- AUD41.9 million to provide tutorial assistance targeted at Year 10, 11 and 12 students in order to increase retention and completion rates of indigenous students in the latter years of schooling. Approximately 11,600 students will receive individual or group assistance over 2005-2008. The continuation of tutorial assistance for tertiary students through bulk-funding arrangements with institutions, with flexibility for the delivery of tutorial assistance to students from remote locations (AUD31.5 million targeting more than 4,000 students over 2005-2008).

- Whole of School Intervention Strategy: The Government would provide AUD102 million for a Whole of School Intervention Strategy to improve learning outcomes for indigenous students over the next four years, 2005-2008. The Whole of School Strategy comprises two main elements:

- AUD62.5 million for submission-based funding for projects to promote parent and school partnerships. The Parent School Partnerships initiative will replace the current formula-based funding of Aboriginal Student Support and Parent Awareness (ASSPA) committees from 2005 with a heightened focus on improving the learning outcomes of indigenous students. Initiatives which can demonstrate strong partnerships with schools and indigenous communities, provide innovative approaches to engaging students, and improve student learning outcomes would be encouraged.

- To ensure a focus on the students facing greatest need, at least 50 per cent of this funding will be targeted to remote schools.

- AUD37.8 million for the continuation of the funding for homework centres in communities which faced a very difficult learning environment. In some communities, indigenous students did not have an appropriate place to study effectively after class. Homework centres would seek to address this.

Supplementary Recurrent Assistance and Strategic Initiatives Under the indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Programme (IESIP) the Government will provide AUD641.6 million for 2005-2008, an increase of 16 Per cent , including AUD45 million in additional new funding.

This funding provides for the continuation of per-capita supplementary recurrent assistance paid to education and training providers for indigenous students, and for ongoing and new strategic projects to further accelerate the educational outcomes of indigenous Australians.

Supplementary Recurrent Assistance: Supplementary funding for indigenous education would continue to be provided to government and non-government education providers across the preschool, school and vocational education and training sectors. In 2005-2008 AUD513.5 million will be provided.

Funding is provided on a per-capita basis. Students classified as being in remote regions would attract funding at twice the rate of students classified as being in non-remote locations. The current definition for determining remote status will continue into the next quadrennium. However, as foreshadowed in the current IESIP guidelines, the remoteness boundaries will be updated based on the 2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census.

Consistent with the Government's principle of not reducing funding to schools, those education and training providers currently classified as remote, who will be re-classified as non-remote in 2005, will have their IESIP recurrent per-capita funding entitlement for indigenous students guaranteed at their 2004 remote rates.

Dr Nelson said that the Government was committed to improving mainstream service provision for indigenous Australians in metropolitan areas, thus enabling indigenous funding to be better targeted to those at greatest disadvantage.

"Consistent with this approach, per-capita supplementary recurrent assistance rates for indigenous students attending schools or vocational education and training in state capital cities and Canberra will be frozen at 2004 levels," Dr Nelson said.

Strategic Initiatives: Over the next four years, the Government will continue to fund significant national initiatives and special projects with an emphasis on indigenous students in remote areas and AUD128.1 million will be provided for this purpose.

Initiatives will be directed towards promoting systemic change and developing flexible, whole-of-government approaches to education delivery - for example through the Council of Australian Government trials.

One of the new flagship projects that will be funded is the Scaffolding approach to teaching literacy. This is a structured approach to teaching which has proven to be especially effective with indigenous students in remote areas. The approach has frequently demonstrated impressive improvements in learning outcomes for indigenous students.

The Government will provide AUD14 million over 2005-2008, and partner with education providers to embed the Scaffolding literacy approach.

ABSTUDY The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander study assistance scheme (ABSTUDY) helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to stay at school and go on to further studies. ABSTUDY comprises a means-tested Living Allowance and supplementary benefits for eligible students studying accredited courses at the secondary and tertiary levels.

The ABSTUDY arrangements in the next quadrennium will continue under the current structure.

Total funding for ABSTUDY for 2005-2008 will be AUD905.3 million, an increase of AUD207.3 million or 29.6 Per cent over funding for 2001-2004.

Implementation of Key Election Commitments

The new legislation would implement two key election commitments: AUD11 million over four years for the Indigenous Youth Leadership Programme that will provide 250 boarding school and university scholarships and structured study tours for Indigenous students from remote areas.

- AUD19.5 million for a new Indigenous Youth Mobility Programme. The programme will assist young indigenous people who, with the support of their communities, choose to relocate to capital cities or major provincial centres to take up employment and training opportunities.

New performance measures tied to funding: An important part of the Government's package is a strengthened performance framework. Specifically, the legislation requires:

- providers will report on how they have advanced or intend to advance the objects of the Act;

- reporting, for the first time, on outcomes at the remote, rural/provincial and metropolitan levels, rather than just at aggregate State level data which often masks large regional variations;

- the agreement to performance indicators and targets to accelerate the rate of progress in improving Indigenous education outcomes and attendance; and

- no cost-shifting or cost substitution when the Government invests additional resources.

The legislation also allows appropriate interventions for under-performance by providers against agreed measures and for failure to report.

Dr Nelson sauid that since 1996, year 12 retention of indigenous students, had increased from 29 per cent to 39 per cent and Years 3 and 5 literacy and numeracy results were the best ever across five of the six national benchmarks.

Enrolments of indigenous students in vocational education and training increased 85 per cent to 59,763 and there has been a 37 per cent increase in indigenous students undertaking a Bachelor or higher degree.

Dr Nelson said that the Government was committed to increasing the educational opportunities and outcomes for all Australians. T

"This initiative for indigenous Australians is specifically targeted towards accelerating progress in indigenous education and training outcomes," he said.

"These measures represent a significant move toward targeting indigenous-specific and mainstream resources to the most disadvantaged Indigenous students, with the objective of closing the educational divide between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians."

The new measures will have effect from 1 January 2005.

Canberra

13 December 2004

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