The new Federal indigenous affairs Minister says more parents will face penalties if they do not send their children to school. The council of Australian Government’s report looking at five years of education results, shows the Northern Territory continues to have the lowest levels of numeracy and literacy in the country, partly due to poor attendance among indigenous students.
Father of five Neville Namanulk lives in the top end town of Jabiru, surrounded by Kakadu National Park. He went to school here, as is making sure his children do the same.
Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it’s hard to take, to looking at getting kids to school everyday – my kids go the school everyday.
A Council of Australian governments report examining education outcomes over five years shows Neville’s children are going against the trend.
In South Australia and Western Australia indigenous attendance is more than 10 percent below non-indigenous rates. In the Northern Territory the rates are lower.
We, sadly have the worst attendance and the worst education rates in indigenous schools and we sure how has it shame about that. What we actually need to focus on is where we make the investment, and is not about money.
The rate for indigenous year 10 students in the territory last year dropped by 14 percent.
The start of the school term next year, I would like to see a full attendance. And that can only happen by the assistance of the community. We share this as the single biggest priority.
A big stick will be used to force the change, with the expansion of the scheme trialled in the territory, where parents faced losing their welfare payments if their children don’t go to school.
That is certainly a direction we need to move on.
The tough approach has the support of the first Aboriginal woman elected to Federal Parliament.
We need to be proactive and how we engage with people, and if that means being, you know, taking extreme measures to be able to get kids to school you have to do that.
The minister is promising to help his political allies in the territory.
I think the Northern Territory government need some assistance, perhaps without being critical a somewhat more sophisticated approach and I think the Commonwealth can play a role in there.
The new indigenous affairs Minister and the Northern Territory government will now be talking to be Federal education Minister to find out what level of help he can offer.
Michael Coggan, ABC News, Darwin.