The Federal Government has proven once again it is all talk and no action on getting Aboriginal kids to school as attendance rates plummet in remote Northern Territory schools.
“The Northern Territory Government set itself a benchmark that at the very least, kids should be attending school 80% of the time, yet it’s reported that more than 60 schools across the Territory are not meeting this benchmark,” Senator Scullion said.
“Why is it that the Territory’s attendance is lower than other states? And why are Federal, state and territory governments dragging the chain on setting formal enrolment and attendance targets?
“An estimated 2,000 kids are not enrolled in the Northern Territory. It’s up to state and territory governments to implement strategies that will increase attendance, but the Federal Government should be stepping in to demand better outcomes.
“Instead, Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin has created a culture of complacency by threatening to suspend welfare payments and not following through.
“By reinforcing non-attendance as the social norm in these communities we will end up with is another generation of Aboriginal adults who have not been formally educated and who have no job prospects.
“Persistent truancy creates a whole range of other problems for these kids as well. If they are not at school there’s a greater chance they’ll be getting up to mischief, become chronically disconnected from the rest of society, and wind up with permanent learning difficulties.
“It’s laughable for the Northern Territory Government to identify growth towns and expect a greater number of wage-earning productive adults in those towns, while failing to measure its performance on supporting communities in getting kids to school.
“Minister Macklin says she takes a personal interest in remote school attendance rates. Instead of ignoring the problem, it’s time she ramped up measures to ensure parents send their kids to school.”
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Government drops the ball on school attendance 3.11.10.pdf