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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7489

Mr ANDREWS (Menzies) (16:32): I also rise to speak on the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment Bill 2011. At the outset, may I comment on the question asked by my friend the member for Hasluck because it goes to the core of the issue, and that is: what are the educational outcomes that are being achieved by Indigenous children? That is a question which should be answered. It is at the core, as I said, of this and other legislation and programs. When millions and millions of dollars are spent on programs but they are not raising the educational outcomes for Indigenous children then questions should be raised about the programs upon which that money is being spent. That is not because there is any sense that it is inappropriate to spend the money; of course it is appropriate to spend money. But one must also ask whether or not the outcomes are being achieved, because, if they are not, then maybe there are other ways of spending money that will achieve the outcomes.

This bill amends the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Act 2000 to extend the existing funding arrangements, including indexation arrangements for the 2013 calendar year. Initiatives included are the Indigenous Youth Mobility Program and the Sporting Chance Program. After passing through the parliament, a similar bill, entitled Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment Bill 2010, received assent on 29 June 2010. That bill provided a 12-month extension to program funding in order to align the funding with other school program funding periods.

Sporting Chance and the Indigenous Youth Mobility Program are two initiatives of the previous coalition government that have been continued by the Rudd-Gillard Labor government. Both programs have achieved success in retaining students at schools as well as increasing their participation and success rates. The Gillard Labor government have not committed to long-term funding for these initiatives. Instead, they have simply provided a 12-month extension in the last two budgets.

The Sporting Chance Program commenced in 2007 under the then coalition government with the objective of encouraging positive educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. In 2011, a total of 22 providers delivered 68 projects under the Sporting Chance Program for up to 11,000 primary and secondary school students at risk of not completing their schooling. The use of sport as a key engagement tool in assisting in the educational development of young Indigenous people has been successful. The Indigenous Youth Mobility Program helps young Indigenous people move away from their home to gain the skills one needs to get a job, whether it is in their community or somewhere else. Youth Indigenous people aged 16 to 24 from remote areas can relocate to a program host location to undertake post-secondary education and training options. Training options include Australian apprenticeships, vocational education and training, and higher education options that lead to qualifications in nursing, teaching, business administration and accounting, to name but a few possibilities.

This extension is described as being necessary to allow for the completion and release of the review of funding for schooling report due sometime in 2011. By the government's own admission, the review is focused on the mainstream but there may be some implications for the design and operation of these programs. Longer term funding, and therefore future planning, for successful programs is now being held hostage to the Gillard Labor government's endless reviews. This is yet another example of the Rudd-Gillard government's approach to policy and law-making: indecision, ineptness, reviews and, of course, short-term fixes. Labor has failed to pay due attention to what is an important issue and failed to provide any long-term commitment to programs that are improving school attendance and completion rates.

The coalition supports this bill. It builds on the good work done by the coalition in introducing programs, but there is a stark difference, I am afraid, between the coalition and the government. We make decisions; we take action. This Labor government is crippled by indecision and inaction.