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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9970

Indigenous Education

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Education. Will the minister outline to the House how the government is working with Indigenous communities to improve literacy outcomes. How was this approach informed by his visit to East Arnhem Land last week?

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Education) (14:55): I thank the member for Wannon for his serious question about Indigenous disadvantage in education and how we are trying to address it. I am very pleased that I had the opportunity last week to visit the communities of East Arnhem Land, with the Prime Minister, other cabinet ministers and ministers. We went to the communities of Gunyangara, Nhulunbuy and the Yirrkala. In fact, these are not the first Indigenous communities that I have visited, because the first committee I ever sat on in this place in 1993 was the Indigenous affairs committee. I spent much time in Indigenous communities. With the former minister for health, Tony Abbott, I went to the APY Lands on many occasions to see what benefits we could bring to that community. If the opposition took Indigenous affairs seriously rather than seeing it as a tokenistic, ideological playground, they would actually recognise that some of the policies we are trying introduce—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr PYNE: Well, stop interjecting when I am answering a serious question about Indigenous disadvantage. You just can't help yourselves. My trip to East Arnhem Land reinforced my view that the government has got it right in putting student outcomes first, before ideology. We announced on 1 July this year $22 million more to expand Direct Instruction and Explicit Instruction across remote communities in Australia. Building on the excellent work that Cape York Partnership has done on Cape York in communities like Coen, Hope Vale and Aurukun, we want the good work that Noel Pearson and his people at Cape York Partnership have achieved there spread across more remote communities, particularly Indigenous communities. That $22 million will lead to more phonics based instruction in remote communities.

Soon, hopefully, 40 schools will be announced across Australia as the beneficiaries, beginning next year, of extra Direct Instruction and Explicit Instruction. Just to give the House some examples of the benefits: at the Aurukun campus, the proportion of year 3 students achieving at or above national minimum standards rose from 27 per cent in 2012 to 66 per cent in 2013. At the Hope Vale campus, the proportion of year 3 students achieving at or above the national minimum standard rose from 29 per cent in 2012 to 54 per cent in 2013. Some of Australia's most disadvantaged communities are using Explicit Instruction too. The member for Leichhardt's electorate in Bamaga, the Northern Peninsula Area State College and the Goondi State School at Innisfail East State School are all using Explicit Instruction. Those students are now in the top half of the nation's NAPLAN results. So we are getting good outcomes for students by using practical measures to do so. I am very pleased to see our good work in practice being expanded across remote Australia.