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Budget 2007: Boosting investment in Indigenous education and training.

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Media Release

Boosting investment in Indigenous education and training

8 May 2007 BUDB 12/07

The Australian Government is committed to providing greater choice and opportunity for Indigenous young people, with a range of significant Indigenous education and training funding initiatives announced today by the Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, as part of the 2007-08 Budget.

The Minister said the substantial commitment in funding highlights the national leadership role in education shown by the Australian Government.

"This Government continues to provide increased funding for Indigenous education, particularly to support Indigenous students living in remote communities where secondary education and training choices are limited," Minister Bishop said.

"The new funding will further assist Indigenous Australians to have the same opportunities as other Australians to make informed choices about their future, regardless of their geographical location."

The Budget initiatives, totalling around $218 million in increased education and training funding to support Indigenous Australians, include:

Expanding Education Options for Indigenous Young People

To support increased choice and mobility in education and training for Indigenous young people:

• $36.0 million to expand the Indigenous Youth Leadership Programme from the current 250 scholarships to 1,000 over four years; and • $33.2 million to expand Indigenous Youth Mobility Programme places from the current 640 places to 1,500 over four years.

Expanding Education Support for Indigenous Young People

To improve higher education access for Indigenous people, the Australian Government has created a new access scholarship:

• $27.7 million annually for up to 1,000 Indigenous higher education students, particularly those who need to relocate from rural and remote areas, to receive a one-off payment of $4,000 to take up a university or enabling course. These students will also be eligible to receive Commonwealth Scholarships to assist them with their accommodation and education costs.

And has enhanced ABSTUDY criteria:

• $5.2 million for: changes to independence workforce criteria to benefit ABSTUDY students who have supported themselves through workforce participation for a specified period since leaving school; extension of Crisis and Bereavement payments to ABSTUDY recipients will

assist in keeping students engaged in education; and extending the ABSTUDY Incidentals Allowance to students undertaking an enabling course at a higher education institutions will encourage younger students to undertake preparatory studies and go on to further study.

These measures respond to advice received from the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council to provide additional support to encourage Indigenous people to enter higher education.

Infrastructure Funds for Boarding School Facilities

To assist boarding schools with significant cohorts of Indigenous students:

• $50 million to assist non-government boarding schools, particularly those in remote and regional areas which accommodate significant cohorts of Indigenous students. This initiative will enable schools to repair and replace aged and deteriorating facilities, and help those schools to meet the growing demand for high quality educational opportunities for Indigenous students in boarding school environments; and • A capital injection of $15.3 million will upgrade facilities in a number of existing boarding schools with strong track records of providing secondary schooling for Indigenous young people and provide additional places. • This funding complements additional Australian Government funding of nearly $43 million to help establish boarding hostels in regional towns with quality secondary schools. The programme is a partnership with the private sector, with the first boarding hostel to be located at Kununurra in Western Australia.

These measures respond to advice from the National Indigenous Council to provide more opportunities for high quality boarding school places for young Indigenous Australians from regional and remote communities.

Training Initiatives for Indigenous Adults in Regional and Remote Communities

To assist Indigenous adults to take up training opportunities in their local area:

• the Australian Government will provide $21.4 million over four years to fund projects aimed at attracting, engaging and supporting Indigenous adults in regional and remote communities to take up training opportunities in their local area, particularly through the Australian Government?s Work Skills Voucher programme. Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory governments will provide matched funding.

Building an Indigenous Workforce ? Addressing Cross-subsidisation of Government Services - Education

To support Indigenous people into jobs in the education sector:

• $15.1 million to convert around 200 Community Development Employment Project positions into jobs in the education sector. Indigenous people holding these positions will now receive the benefits of normal employment arrangements, including access to career pathways.

Digitisation of Indigenous Cultural Resources

To preserve the unique historical and cultural resource collection held by AIATSIS:

• $10.2 million to complete the preservation of a unique historical and cultural resource collection held by AIATSIS. This funding will complete the preservation of the most at-risk and vulnerable cultural and heritage materials.

In addition to the above initiatives which will directly benefit Indigenous Australians, the following mainstream funding initiatives, totalling $578.5 million, will also benefit Indigenous Australians.

Literacy and Numeracy Vouchers

• The Australian Government will invest $457.4 million in funding over four years which will give direct assistance to thousands of school students, including Indigenous students, through the provision of national literacy or numeracy vouchers. This initiative will provide a $700 tutorial voucher per student to parents/caregivers whose children do not achieve current literacy or numeracy benchmarks in Years 3, 5 and 7 following the introduction of literacy and numeracy tests in 2008. Vouchers will be available to eligible students in Year 9 from 1 January 2009.

Greater Support for Rural and Remote Students in Non-government Schools

In recognition of the higher cost of delivering schooling in rural and remote regions of Australia:

• $121.1 million will be invested over the period 2007-08 to 2010-11 to supplement mainstream schools assistance being directed to over 400 rural and remote non-government schools. Indigenous students in non-government schools in rural and remote areas will benefit from additional recurrent funding that is being provided in recognition of the higher costs of delivering schooling in rural and remote regions in Australia. This funding will assist these schools to direct resources where most needed to assist their most educationally disadvantaged students.

Media Contacts

Minister Bishop?s Office: Tory Vidler 0414 228 727

Dept of Education, Science & Training: Virginia Cook 0412 971 323

Non-media queries: 1300 363 079