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Wednesday, 28 June 2000
Page: 18408

Dr KEMP (Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (10:40 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

The Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Bill 2000 will be the vehicle for the government's indigenous education targeted funding program for the 2001-04 quadrennium and will provide the authority to appropriate some $591 million in grants to indigenous education providers in the states and territories over the quadrennium.

The bill will implement the 1999-2000 budget initiatives for indigenous education, including the Commonwealth priorities to improve literacy, numeracy and attendance outcomes for indigenous students.

Specifically, the bill will provide funding for the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Programme (IESIP) for the period 1 January 2001 to 30 June 2005 to maintain Commonwealth effort in improving education outcomes for indigenous Australians. This incorporates supplementary recurrent funding and funding for specific projects with the purpose of meeting the objects of the bill. It will also provide for the continuation of the `mixed-mode' course delivery away-from-base element of the Abstudy scheme, transferred to IESIP from 1 January 1999 for the 2001-04 period. Specifically, the bill contains funding arrangements for education providers delivering Abstudy approved courses.

This bill will replace the Indigenous Education (Supplementary Assistance) Act 1989 and will operate on a quadrennial basis in line with the States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Bill 2000 commencing from 1 January 2001. These two bills represent the government's renewal of its commitment to school education and indigenous education for the new schools quadrennium 2001 to 2004. The States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Bill 2000—which I will be introducing shortly—provides Commonwealth funding for the education of all Australian school students while the Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) Bill 2000 provides additional funding for supplementary education programs designed to assist education providers and improve educational outcomes for indigenous students.

The Commonwealth government is committed to working with indigenous families, communities, states, territories and education providers to overcome the educational disadvantages that many indigenous students face. An important step towards this goal was the launch by the Prime Minister of the National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy in March of this year. This strategy builds on the National Literacy and Numeracy Plan endorsed by the Commonwealth, state and territory education ministers in March 1997 and is aimed at improving education outcomes for indigenous people.

The objective of the strategy is to achieve English literacy and numeracy for indigenous students at levels comparable to those achieved by other young Australians. The strategy will encompass the involvement of local communities, schools, parents and students; cooperative action between the Commonwealth and the states and territories which have primary responsibility for schooling; and coordinated action within the Commonwealth government across relevant portfolios.

The strategy will extend across the preschool, school and VET sectors. Education providers will be encouraged to adopt approaches to teaching that have been shown to achieve better student outcomes.

There will be extensive resources available for the education of all Australian children through state, territory and Commonwealth recurrent funding programs. Specific supplementary funding arrangements designed to support improved educational outcomes for indigenous students will also be available. This strategy will heighten awareness of indigenous literacy and numeracy issues and accelerate implementation of successful teaching practices.

The passage of this bill will enable the Commonwealth to play its part, in concert with the states and territories, in pursing the goal of equitable and appropriate educational outcomes for indigenous students by 2004. This goal is vital if indigenous people in communities are to enjoy the many opportunities available in Australia and to achieve their aspirations and hopes for their families and communities. I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Bevis) adjourned.