A $24 MILLION national funding guarantee to ensure that more than 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students complete their education was announced in Tamworth on Saturday.
Deputy prime minister and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce was joined by Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullian at Oxley High School to announce the Coalition election commitment to invest in projects aimed at advancing Aboriginal education along with a Role Models and Leaders Australia girls academy to be established at the school.
Organisations to be supported through the funding package include The Clontarf Foundation, Role Models and Leaders Australia, Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, Cathy Freeman Foundation, AFL Cape York House and the Wirrapanda Foundation.
The Clontarf Foundation and Role Models and Leaders Australia will each receive almost $5 million in funding that will enable both of them to expand the school-based mentoring support they deliver by an additional 1500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
"We know this how we build strong communities, we know this is how we build respect and we know this how you get attendance rates up," Mr Joyce told media in Tamworth.
"I think it so vitally important that we have a further investment and what better place to do it than here at Oxley High School with people from our local community."
Minister Scullion agreed with Mr Joyce and said closing the gap began at school.
"It is so important that we make this equal investment in that same socialisation, that confidence and the life skill very early and so Role Models and Leaders Australia will be opening an academy here," he said.
"If you complete year 12, there is literally no gap, you have the same opportunities as any other Australian, that's what the statistics tell us and that is why we are making this absolutely vital investment."
Clontarf Chief Executive Officer, Gerard Neesham, said $5 million in additional funding for his organisation would enable the foundation to assist more young men more quickly, in turn helping the country to break the cycle of disadvantage.
"We exist to improve the education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects of young Aboriginal men and by doing so, equip them to participate more meaningfully in society,” Mr Neesham said.
“We are fully committed to continuing work in our current locations and are absolutely determined to reach more young Aboriginal men who could benefit from a Clontarf programme.”
Role Models and Leaders Australia founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ricky Grace, said he was delighted the Coalition was providing major funding to expand the organisation’s Girls Academies to a further 1500 Indigenous secondary school girls.
“This important commitment will ensure we are able to meet the needs of young Indigenous girls in secondary schools and improve school attendance and engagement, secondary school graduation and transition into post-school education and training opportunities,” Mr Grace said.