Senator Scullion talks about howthe Federal Government Indigenous Hostels program in tatters.
Joining me now is the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Deputy Leader of the Nationals and the Country Liberal Senator for the Northern
Territory, Nigel Scullion. Good morning.
Good morning, Pete how are you mate?
I am well my friend. Now the, you are saying that the Federal Government’s Northern Territory Indigenous Hostels Program is in tatters?
Well it is mate and can I just thank you for reminding Mr Shorten when he was here about the cuts to Kormilda College and I guess you should take the, this hostels experiment that they’ve done in the context that Kormilda has been now forced to close one of their boarding houses, cutting 80 places to indigenous students.
Where as out at Wadeye what they’ve actually done is said, well we are opening this hostel, yes costs blow outs, all expected, two years late yes, all expected. And it’s actually, they’ve got a residential college in town. So I expect all the ones from the outstations would come in.
They told me they had 35 students, they’ve confirmed it’s only 21 and I understand about 20 out of the 21 actually come from the town. We’re already into the term and it’s only half full.
It’s like going to boarding school if you live in Palmerston in Kormilda. It just hardly seems a point but the really sad thing of course is when you are cutting 80 places for indigenous students I understand that some people in Kormilda – in Wadeye are saying oh well, we’ll take my kids out of Kormilda and put them in this residential facility and sadly you are never going to get the education in Wadeye at the public school in Wadeye as you are at
Kormilda College. No doubt about it and you know, it’s just not a good outcome for anyone. Not a good outcome for anyone at all and after being promised you know, spending nearly $30m for these hostels we’ve only got one, Garthalala which is a place on the Gulf, south of Blue Mud Bay there. They’ve got a school there sorry, they are building, they’ve spent $650 000 and they’ve banged a couple, literally a couple of pegs in the ground,
a couple of feasibility studies. Not a brick laid and I’d say now no plans to build one at all. Another one that’s supposed to go in the, what they call the Warlpiri Triangle now, I don’t think it’s particularly wise to build a hostel near Yuendumu you know, Territorians deserve, in terms of secondary school, they deserve if they are going to have a residential place it should be next to the best sort of secondary schooling you can get. It should be
somewhere like Tennant Creek because they’ve got quite a good secondary school at Tennant Creek.
But any event, they’ve all said oh well, look they’ve told me through Estimates over years and years, like two of the last two years they’ve said, oh look, the Warlpiri are at war it’s a bit hard to talk to them. I said, mate, they’ve been at war for a hundred years. That’s not going to change. Everything else seems to happen out there.
You go to the post, I talk to the mob, I you know, people do things, FACSIA go there, all sorts of things happen but the government apparently, it’s just too difficult to talk to them.
So it just appears that everything else has been abandoned. Wadeye now is an alternative to Kormilda College but at the same time we are wasting money out there we’ve actually cut places to Kormilda College and they’ve taken $650 000 a year off them. It’s just…
…it’s hard to – to get my head around why one organisation of government is not talking to another.
It’s taken decades for Kormilda to develop their model and by and large it’s been a very successful model. Now it would almost appear to me that the Federal Government is trying to reinvent the wheel and roll that wheel out in remote places.
Well it’s going the opposite direction. Now if you want to insulate yourself against a second hand education you’ve got to go to a first class secondary school. Now without a doubt I can tell you, I’ve had one of my kids at Kormilda, that is an absolutely first class secondary education facility and the notion that what they’ve done, they’re very carefully, the way they’ve built the residential colleges, it takes cultural issues into consideration so there’s one
area of the college is from one area of the Territory, all of those sort of things have been taken into consideration.
We should be expanding those boarding colleges instead of closing them down. We should be allocating some of these funds to Kormilda rather than putting them out in the bush or in fact in two out of three cases not succeeding at all to do anything.
But we need to protect institutions like Kormilda for the one reason, they work. They’ve got very high NAPLAN results for, doesn’t matter about the ethnicity or what level you come in, they’ve got very high standards and in terms of, across the Territory people need to get access. If they
don’t have access to a secondary education they should have access to somewhere like that and it is just sad. It is just sad we have people like Shorten come here and say oh, by the way I am just opening up a bit of a technical facility here, rah rah but they haven’t managed to point out that in terms of the Gonski modelling they stand to lose another $473 000 a year.
And of course what will happen well, because it’s the most expensive part of it the residential college sort of side to things will be cut back. So this is just again, just completely dysfunctional approach to education and I am just very disappointed because this shouldn’t be an
experiment. You know, that’s just another experiment, another couple of years of people who happen to be going through secondary school now, there’s none available, we can’t go to Kormilda College. We don’t sort of yawn and say, oh well that’s a bit tough. These are real people. These are people who deserve access to secondary education just like every single person in the Northern Territory believes that their children should do. They want a secondary education, there needs to be a good one available and sadly because of the current government’s just lack of capacity to get it together that’s just simply not happening, mate.
Nigel Scullion, always good to talk to you.
Great to talk to you, Pete.
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