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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 4834

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryDeputy Leader of The Nationals) (12:56): I rise today to make a contribution to the debate on the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Amendment Bill 2011. This is non-controversial legislation in the sense that we support the bill. The bill fundamentally deals with two programs: one is the Sporting Chance Program and the other is the Indigenous Youth Mobility Program. These programs have done a very good job in reconnecting Aboriginal people with their schools and their sport. They have certainly increased not only their partici­pation but their success rates in their chosen endeavours. Like many issues in this area, the sad thing is that the bill provides only a further 12 months of funding.

The reason we support these two programs is that fundamentally they are legacy programs from the previous govern­ment, and I commend the government for recognising and maintaining those. But the budget is only for an extra 12 months, which beggars belief when this is such good work. Of course, work comes from people. Policy does not just roll out of a machine and these programs end up getting run. You have to make an investment in staff to run these programs. And of course those staff, again, are not machines. They have mortgages; they have to have some security of tenure. We have now been issued another 12 months—well, jolly good. Times are pretty tough out there and it is very important that the individuals who are part of these programs, particularly the staff of the Sporting Chance and the Indigenous Youth Mobility pro­grams, have a much longer tenure than the 12 months that have been indicated here.

This appears to be symptomatic. Just last week I was speaking to some individuals who run a dialysis service in the Western Desert. They have eight dialysis machines without which those in the Western Desert with renal failure simply could not cope. They have a funding extension of six months.

I am not quite sure why the government is taking this course, but it is taking away people's security in thinking: 'I can stay in this job. It is a career. It's not just a casual job where I have six months tenure.' In areas like dialysis and working with young people we need the people who are delivering these very important programs to know that they have a sustainable future in those programs. Sadly, whilst we support the bill, this is just another example of the lack of recognition of that issue.