Boarding school options for Indigenous students in central Australia need to expand

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Boarding school options for Aboriginal school students in central Australia are being explored by both federal and Northern Territory government leaders.

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney, federal Education Minister Jason Clare and Lingiari MP Marion Scrymgour met earlier this week and announced a multi-agency assessment of boarding school options and capacity.

“It is important to understand the current provision of supported student accommodation, existing expansion proposals and the needs of remote students,” Ms Burney said.

“The approach to education in central Australia must focus on the needs and aspirations of young people and their families.”

- Advertisement -

The assessment is due by the end of 2023 and will include consultation with the Central Australian Regional Controller, the Central Australian Aboriginal Leadership Group, and local schools that may be considering establishing or expanding their boarding school accommodation options.

St Philip’s College (pictured above) and Yirara College are two local schools already taking boarders.

Supporting on-country learning

Last year, the community-controlled independent school, Yipirinya, submitted an application for $12 million funding to the National Indigenous Australians Agency to build a boarding facility. The school is governed by an Aboriginal council and currently has around 300 students across primary and secondary. The school teaches in five languages, Central Arrernte, Warlpiri, Luritja, Western Aranda and English.

Yipirinya principal Gavin Morris urged all stakeholders to fast-track the school’s assessment.

- Advertisement -

“In Alice Springs, we have an impending crisis looming for our community this summer, escalating the need for secure and safe accommodation for our students and families,” Mr Morris said.

Mr Clare said announced allocation of an additional $40.4 million to the $250 million plan for A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia. The funds have been allocated to the region’s 46 schools in the region, to support on-country learning.

The assessment – conducted by the National Indigenous Australians Agency, with the Commonwealth and Territory education departments – will also be informed by the NT government’s Review of Secondary Schooling findings.

Ms Scrymgour said working through the boarding needs and views from the local community in Central Australia was important.

“This approach is aimed at making sure federal funding is targeted, accountable and in line with the needs of the community,” she said.

- Advertisement -
Share This Article
Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]