Today, educators, community organisations and government representatives came together in Tennant Creek for the Barkly Remote School Attendance Strategy Summit, hosted in partnership between the Coalition Government and the Papulu Apparr-kari Aboriginal Corporation.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said that getting kids to school is a priority for the Coalition Government.
“It’s essential that we get the right people together to discuss the local factors that impact on school attendance,” said Minister Scullion.
The Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS) was introduced to address the decline in attendance at remote schools. Across the nation, RSAS employs 470 local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across 78 sites, working with around 14,500 students per day.
“State and territory governments are responsible for educating all students, regardless of where they live. At the federal level, getting kids to school every day is the best early intervention and diversion measure that we can support.
“Regular school attendance is crucial to close the gap. Through RSAS we are focused on addressing the complex barriers to school attendance in remote Australia, in close partnership with families and communities.
“The Coalition Government is also supporting school attendance and health in the NT through a $24 million investment for school nutrition projects to provide healthy meals to around 5400 children per school day.
The Summit will focus on lifting school attendance in the communities of Ali Curung, Canteen Creek, Elliott, Epenarra and Tennant Creek.
Attendees will discuss stronger collaboration between RSAS teams and schools, identify new opportunities to engage families and explore stronger data collection and evaluation.
Papulu Apparr-kari Aboriginal Corporation is funded by the Coalition Government to deliver the RSAS in the communities of Ali Curung, Epenarra, Canteen Creek, Elliott and Tennant Creek.
Karan Hayward, CEO of the Papulu Apparr-kari Aboriginal Corporation said that better education will result in a better future for local children.
“As a provider of a community project as vital as ours, we need to come together with all partners to ensure our efforts to get children to school are on track. We hope this Summit will refocus and strengthen community support to continue working towards achieving better school outcomes”.
Through RSAS, Papulu Apparr-kari Aboriginal Corporation employs 18 Aboriginal staff as school attendance officers and supervisors.
Anita Meyers, the RSAS Manager from the Papula Apparr-kari Aboriginal Corporation emphasised the importance of a whole-of-community approach.
“This Summit is a step in the right direction. From the list of people who have agreed to attend, you can tell we are all committed to getting better results in school attendance.”
The Barkly RSAS Summit follows a successful school attendance forum yesterday in Mutitjulu. The annual national RSAS conference will be held in Alice Springs on 17 November.
Since 2014 the Coalition Government has invested more than $240 million in scholarships, mentoring and academy projects to help over 20,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students complete secondary school and transition successfully to further study or employment.