Funding supports First Nations education

Federal Budget funding for First Nations education is a positive step forward.

The peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has welcomed the additional funding for education in the federal budget, arguing it will support efforts to close the gap.

Handed down on Tuesday, the budget saw $74.8m worth of funding over four years to develop a new National First Nations education policy, as well as $2.4m over three years to implement the First Nations Teacher Strategy to increase the number of First Nations teachers in school.

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children is a national peak body Aboriginal community-controlled organisation that works to improve outcomes and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and strengthen the capacities of families across Australia. The organisation welcomed the budget’s education focus, especially initiatives targeted towards new policy developments and program delivery.

Chief executive Catherine Liddle says SNAICC was receiving “dedicated funding for the first time” as is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Corporation (NATSIEC).

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Just over $29 million over four years – with $8.7 million per year ongoing – has been budgeted for both SNAICC and NATSIEC to partner with the government on issues impacting Indigenous children in early childhood and education.

“This will give us important ongoing stability, enabling us to continue bringing the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to the development of policies and programs that affect them,” Ms Liddle says.

“The commitment to a wage rise for hard-working early childhood educators is also welcomed.”

Funding will help “turn the tide” for Indigenous children

Ms Liddle says she was also pleased to see a funding allocation – worth $5.9 million over two years – to the recently announced National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner.

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“This backs up the commitment made by the Prime Minister in February to stand-up the Commissioner, which can oversee efforts to turn the tide for our children ending up in the child protection system.”

However, SNAICC says that, despite the funding, they were concerned about some of the important early childhood initiatives not included.

More support still needed

She says the government “missed key opportunities” to change the way they interacted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations by investing in Indigenous-led decision making and partnerships — a key recommendation in the Productivity Commission’s review into Closing the Gap.

“Investing in the early years sets our children and families up to thrive. Get the early years right and we will not have to spend ever increasing millions on broken child protection and youth detention systems. Closing the gap starts with our children and is where investment has the most impact.”

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