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Government jumps the gun on Abstudy

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Wednesday, 14 May 1997

Go vern m en t J umps Th e G un o n Abstu d y Q jb

ATSIC Chairman Gatjil Djerrkura has expressed his surprise and disappointment at The announcement of Midget cuts to the Federal Government’s ABSTUDY scheme.

M r Djerrkura said ATSIC was concerned that the Government had made a preĀ­ emptive strike to cut ABSTUDY in the absence o f any justification or proper assessment. H e doubted that the Government had the necessary evidence before it to property assess the long term impact o f such cuts.

“During the course o f the announcement o f the budget last year, the Government is on the record as stating that ABSTUDY would be the subject of a review in 1997, ” the Chairman said,

“ATSIC not only welcomed that review but sought to complement it by commissioning its own study on the long term economic benefit o f education for indigenous people, and the contribution that ABSTUDY made to employment prospects. -

"The preliminary findings from this research confirms that ABSTUDY is a fundamental component for indigenous people to achieve better educational levels and hence better employment prospects.

“Despite the fact that the Government’s own review had not yet started, Government has taken upon itself to cut elements of ABSTUDY. ”

M r Djerrkura said that education was of fundamental importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A 1995 study o f factors affecting indigenous employment showed that completion of year 12 increases the chance of employment; a tertiary qualification doubles the chance o f employment; and a vocational qualification doubles the chance of employment for males, and more than doubles the chance for females.

“That study also demonstrated that indigenous youth in remote areas remain disadvantaged due to lack o f access to secondary education and above and that education and training emerged as the largest single factors contributing to ployment outcom es,” the Chairman said.

A T C I i ^ ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COMMISSION / Y I 3 1 V M IC TOW ER BUILDING, PHILLIP, ACT, 2 6 * . TEL: (0 6 ) 2 8 9 1 2 2 2 FAX: (06) 2 8 2 2 8 5 4

“The Government is also aware that indigenous unemployment is likely to increase to 47 % by the year 2006 and that average indigenous adult income levels were 30 % lower than the Australian average.

“Education is critical to economic development and the decision to cut ABSTUDY is inconsistent with the Government’s commitment to expanding such opportunities for indigenous Australians."

For further information:

Roy Tatten, (06) 289 3048 - work, (019) 642 858 - mobile Kirstie Parker, (06) 289 3307 - work, (0417) 212 926 - mobile

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