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Centrelink fails Cape York kids.



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Centrelink Fails Cape York Kids

At least 50 teenagers from Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait have missed the first term of the 2002 school year. These children rely on Abstudy for their secondary education and Centrelink is failing to administer the program effectively.

Senator McLucas said, “I have had complaints about Abstudy from community members and teachers from Coen, Pormpuraaw, Lockhardt River, Aurukun, Napranum and Weipa and am aware of the same problem in the outer islands of the Torres Strait.

“These children have to leave their community to gain a secondary education and many had planned to attend high school in Cairns, Townsville and on the Tablelands.

“Their circumstances should be enough to warrant an immediate response from Centrelink to ensure that they have access to secondary education. These children have already missed the first term this year and Centrelink must move quickly to ensure that they can start school as soon as possible.

“Responses from Centrelink so far have highlighted their inability to assist families to complete documentation and other requirements.

“These kids aren’t just a form that needs to be filled in correctly. They are real people and Cape York Peninsula’s future.

“No wonder Indigenous people have poor secondary school completion rates when it is difficult for them even to get to school because of delays in getting Abstudy.

“The best way to combat social disadvantage in Indigenous communities is to provide indigenous children with access to a quality education.

“Under the Howard Government’s policies Centrelink is more concerned about penalising the disadvantaged than working constructively with families and young people toward independence and self sufficiency.

“The Minister for Family and Community Services Amanda Vanstone must act to get these and many other indigenous children back to school,” Senator McLucas concluded.

Ends Monday 8th April 2002

For further information contact Senator Jan McLucas 07 4031 6009 Jim Turnour 0418 770484

Media Release Media Release Media Release Media Release Senator Jan McLucas Senator Jan McLucas Senator Jan McLucas Senator Jan McLucas Labor Senator for Queensland