New investments in education for the Wadeye community
- Minister for School Education
- Minister for Early Childhood and Youth
- Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
- Minister for Disability Reform
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Minister Peter Garrett today attended a special ceremony with the Wadeye community to sign an agreement to withdraw a complaint made against the Commonwealth to the Human Rights Commission.
The Minister also announced that the Gillard Government will invest an extra $8 million in projects to help deliver high-quality education to the Wadeye and Thamarrurr community.
The complaint was initially lodged in 2007 under the previous Government and related to funding arrangements for the only school in Wadeye, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic School.
Today’s ceremony in Melbourne was to sign a Heads of Agreement between the Commonwealth and local representative Tobias Nganbe, attended by students, elders and other members of the Thamarrurr community.
Mr Garrett said the complaint will be withdrawn after direct negotiations between him and Mr Nganbe on behalf of the Wadeye community over the past 18 months. As a result the Gillard Government and the Wadeye community have agreed to work together to improve education opportunities for all local residents.
“This is an important day for the people of Wadeye and the Thamarrurr area. It marks the turning of a page as we put the complaint behind us and now focus instead on what needs to be done,” he said.
“This event has only been possible because we have been able to co-operatively work together to develop a plan for the community, a plan that has real educational benefits and will help give Wadeye and its people a brighter future.”
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin commended the community for their strong leadership and for their whole of community approach to school attendance.
“Making sure kids are attending school ready to learn is the responsibility of all parents,” Ms Macklin said.
“These new projects will build on Wadeye’s community-based approach to strengthening positive social norms and improving school attendance through community engagement and personal responsibility.
“This extra support from the Gillard Government will strengthen this approach and help ensure that all kids are getting the best possible start in life.”
The four projects to be funded by the Gillard Government are:
- An investment of $1.7 million to continue the Da Ngimalmin Project, which has engaged elders and senior community leaders in the activities of OLSH Thamarrurr Catholic School. Under the program, elders and school students join in weekly activities, including culturally focused excursions to significant sites, fishing and hunting trips, bush tucker trips, arts and craft activities and interaction with conservation projects.
- The construction of four new classrooms at the primary school, worth $2.2 million.
- Provide $1.6 million over the next three years in extra support for students with disability and other special needs. This will help provide more specialist staff in the areas of health, assessment and behaviour in order to provide more comprehensive services to address identified student needs.
- Invest $2.2 million over the next three years to provide literacy, numeracy and job readiness training to adults in the Wadeye community. The target group are the men and women who have, over the last 25 years, not been able to take full advantage of education services on offer in the region.
- Up to $300,000 to support the development of a scoping study based on community consultation and broader research into community-based approaches that strengthen social norms.
This funding is in addition to the ongoing recurrent funding provided to the school as well as the Gillard Government’s additional investment in constructing a new boarding facility for indigenous students from the Wadeye region.
The Commonwealth has at no stage accepted that it has acted in a discriminatory manner towards the people of the Wadeye community, Mr Garrett said.
“However we know that Wadeye and the Thamarrurr area have experienced real need and there is a long history of disadvantage in the community. The Gillard Government is committed the closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and this new funding is part of that commitment.”