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$2.1 billion to accelerate indigenous education outcomes.

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(Embargoed until 10:30am AEST Monday, 5 April)


5 April, 2004 IND 1

The Howard Government will provide a record $2.1 billion in funding for Indigenous Education to pre-schools, schools, tertiary education providers and Indigenous students (including through ABSTUDY), over the next four years. The 2005-2008 funding represents an increase of $351 million or 20.5% over the current quadrennium. Important conditions, including attendance, will be attached to the funding.

Existing programmes have been reformed in order to redirect resources to initiatives that have demonstrably improved outcomes. In addition, there is a greater weighting of resources towards Indigenous students of greatest disadvantage - those in remote areas.

Progress has been made but more needs to be done

Significant progress has been made in improving the educational outcomes of Indigenous students. Since 1996 Year 12 retention has increased from 29% to 38% and Years 3 and 5 literacy and numeracy results are the best ever in five of the six national benchmarks. Indigenous enrolments in vocational education and training have increased 85% to 59,763 and there has been a 37% increase in Indigenous students undertaking a Bachelor or higher degree.

However, unacceptable disadvantage remains. Whilst Year 12 retention rates have risen to record levels, they are still only half that of non-Indigenous Australians. Although national literacy and numeracy benchmark results are the best to date, they are still well below the non-Indigenous rate, particularly in remote areas.

The Australian Government does not run schools or other educational institutions. Indigenous specific funding provided by the Australian Government is supplementary to other mainstream funds and is intended for strategic interventions to accelerate Indigenous students’ learning outcomes.

Direct assistance programmes

The Indigenous Education Direct Assistance Programme (IEDA) is the major direct assistance programme that provides targeted funds directly to Indigenous students, school-based Indigenous parent committees and education institutions to improve education outcomes. Total funding for IEDA for 2005-2008 will be $280.9 million, an increase of $20.7 million or 8% over funding for 2001-2004.

The IEDA programme is being significantly reshaped for 2005-2008. The reform is informed by a Review of the programme which occurred last year and by consultations with stakeholders across the country. ( ). The reshaped programme will consist of two elements: better targeted tuition assistance for Indigenous students; and the introduction of a whole of school intervention strategy.

Better Targeted Tuition Assistance

The Australian Government will provide $179 million over the next four years to ensure that Indigenous students can access high quality tutorial assistance at key stages of their education. This is an increase of $50 million over 2001-2004 in this element of the IEDA Programme.

The key aspect of the tuition assistance will be the rollout of the very successful in-class tuition scheme. The scheme has been piloted since 2001 in Cape York, the Northern Territory and New South Wales and was found to have a significant impact on student outcomes. For example, in New South Wales, 78.5% of participating schools reported growth in literacy and numeracy achievements. Parents and schools also reported improvements in school attendance, confidence, self-esteem and other behavioural changes. This scheme, which provides one-to-one tutorial assistance to children in primary schools and the early years of secondary school, will become one of the Government’s flagship initiatives in Indigenous education from 2005.

More money will be provided for the in-class tuition scheme ($105.5m over four years) and the scheme will be rolled out across the nation. Assistance will be targeted at those students not meeting the Year 3, 5 and 7 literacy and numeracy national benchmarks. It is estimated that more than 45,000 students will benefit from the additional assistance over 2005-2008.

In addition, a new tuition scheme targeted at Year 10, 11 and 12 students will be introduced to increase retention and completion rates of Indigenous students in the latter years of schooling. $41.9 million will be provided for approximately 11,600 students to receive individual or group assistance after school over 2005-2008.

Tuition will continue to be available for tertiary students through bulk-funding arrangements with institutions, with flexibility for the delivery of tutorial assistance to students from remote locations ($31.5 million targeting more than 4,000 students in 2005-2008).

This enhanced tutorial assistance scheme replaces the Aboriginal Tutorial Assistance Scheme, which provided tutorial assistance to Indigenous students, primarily for after hours tuition of Indigenous students who fall within the bottom 20% at school. These targeted changes and increased resources are designed to accelerate improved educational outcomes for Indigenous students.

Whole of School Intervention Strategy

The Howard Government will provide $102 million for a Whole of School Intervention Strategy to improve learning outcomes for Indigenous students over the next four years, 2005-2008.

The Whole of School Strategy comprises two main elements: $62.5 million for submission-based funding for projects to promote parent and school partnerships, and up to $37.8 million for the continuation of homework centres, with an increased emphasis on local partnerships with schools and communities.

The Parent School Partnerships initiative will replace the current formula-based funding of Aboriginal Student Support and Parent Awareness (ASSPA) committees from 2005 with a heightened focus on improving the learning outcomes of Indigenous students. This initiative will enable Indigenous parents and schools to increase the quality of education for Indigenous students.

The discontinuation of formula-based funding for ASSPA Committees supports the findings of the IEDA review, which found this funding model was no longer an appropriate approach. Funding for the Vocational and Educational Guidance for Aboriginals Scheme (VEGAS) will be pooled within the Parent School Partnerships initiative from 2005.

Initiatives which can demonstrate strong partnerships with schools and Indigenous communities, provide innovative approaches to engaging students, and improve student learning outcomes will be encouraged. To ensure a focus on the students facing greatest need, at least 50% of this funding will be targeted at remote schools.

This refocused approach is aimed at improving attendance, literacy and numeracy skills and increased Year 12 completion or its vocational equivalent for Indigenous students.

Supplementary recurrent assistance and strategic initiatives

Under the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Programme (IESIP) the Howard Government provided $553.2 million in funding for 2001-2004 to government and non-government education and training providers. Australian Government funding support for this programme will be increased to $641.6 million for 2005-2008, an increase of 16%, including $45 million in additional new funding. This funding provides for the continuation of per-capita supplementary recurrent assistance paid to education and training providers for Indigenous students, and for on-going and new strategic projects to further accelerate the educational outcomes of Indigenous Australians.

Supplementary Recurrent Assistance

Supplementary funding for Indigenous education will continue to be provided to government and non-government education providers across the preschool, school and vocational education and training sectors.

Funding is provided on a per capita basis. Students classified as being in remote regions attract funding at twice the rate of students classified as being in non-remote locations. The current definition for determining remote status will continue into the next quadrennium. However, as foreshadowed in the current IESIP guidelines, the remoteness boundaries will be updated based on the 2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census. The current classifications rely on the 1996 Census data.

Consistent with the Howard Government’s principle of not cutting funding to schools, those education and training providers currently classified as remote, but that will be re-

classified as non-remote in 2005 under 2001 ABS Census data, will have their IESIP recurrent per-capita funding entitlement for Indigenous students guaranteed at 2004 rates.

The Australian Government is committed to improving mainstream service provision for Indigenous Australians in metropolitan areas, thus enabling Indigenous-specific funding to be better targeted to those at greatest disadvantage. Consistent with this approach, per-capita supplementary recurrent assistance rates for Indigenous students attending schools or vocational education and training in state capital cities and Canberra will be frozen at 2004 levels.

Strategic Initiatives

The Howard Government is currently funding a number of national initiatives and special projects to support and improve the education outcomes of Indigenous students. These include the $74.5m National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy (NIELNS), English as a Second Language - Indigenous Language Speaking Students, Scaffolding Literacy pilots, Indigenous Education Consultative Bodies and Indigenous Support Units, Croc Festivals, and Mentoring Pilots.

Over the next four year funding period the Australian Government will continue to fund significant national initiatives and special projects with an emphasis on Indigenous students in remote areas. $128.1 million will be provided for this purpose. Initiatives will be directed towards promoting systemic change and developing flexible whole-of-government approaches to education delivery, for example through the Council of Australian Government trials.

NIELNS will continue and, following its evaluation in 2003 ( will be reshaped by strengthening the application of ‘what works’, particularly around:

● the practices and skills of teachers and their support staff;

● preparing young Indigenous children for formal schooling; and

● helping re-engage and retain more Indigenous students to Year 12, or its vocational

education and training equivalent.

Other projects will progress coalitions with school principals to champion Indigenous education in their schools and communities by setting measurable goals for improvements in the literacy levels and retention rates of Indigenous students.

One of the new flagship projects that will be funded is the Scaffolding approach to teaching literacy. This is a structured approach to teaching that has proven to be especially effective with Indigenous students in remote areas. The approach has frequently demonstrated impressive improvements in learning outcomes for Indigenous students. The Howard Government will provide $14 million over 2005-2008, and partner with education providers to embed the Scaffolding literacy approach.

The Australian Government’s funding and effort will also focus on lifting the effectiveness of teachers and support staff, and working with education providers to enable them to significantly improve the outcomes of Indigenous students.


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander study assistance scheme (ABSTUDY) helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to stay at school and go on to further studies. ABSTUDY comprises a means-tested Living Allowance and supplementary

benefits for eligible students studying accredited courses at the secondary and tertiary levels. The ABSTUDY arrangements in the next quadrennium will continue under the current structure. Total funding for ABSTUDY for 2005-2008 will be $905.3 million, an increase of $207.3 million or 29.6% over funding for 2001-2004.

New performance measures tied to funding

An important part of the new funding package is a strengthened performance framework. Specifically, funding over the next quadrennium will be tied to:

● the introduction of school attendance benchmarks for all students (Indigenous and

non-Indigenous); ● the provision of an annual Indigenous Education Statement. Government and non-

government systems will be required to report to the Australian Government on how school funding provided by the Australian Government is being spent on improving Indigenous student outcomes. This will include: the goals for Indigenous education; progress in achieving those goals, barriers faced, strategies for overcoming those barriers and initiatives funded; ● the reporting, for the first time, on outcomes at the remote, rural/provincial and

metropolitan levels, rather than just as aggregate State level data which often masks large regional variations; ● the agreement to performance indicators and targets to accelerate the rate of

progress in improving Indigenous education outcomes and attendance; and ● no cost shifting or cost substitution when the Australian Government invests

additional resources.

The Indigenous Education (Targeted Assistance) legislation will also be strengthened to mirror the educational accountability provisions currently contained in the State Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Act 2000 for appropriate interventions for under-performance by providers against agreed measures and for failure to report.


The Australian Government is committed to accelerating progress in Indigenous education and training outcomes. These measures represent a significant step forward to better focus Indigenous-specific and mainstream resources to the most disadvantaged Indigenous students, with the objective of closing the educational divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Legislation will be introduced into the Parliament mid-year to give effect to the package from 1 January 2005.

Media Contacts:

Dr Nelson’s Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095 Dept of Education, Science & Training: Laila Lacis 0412 040 034