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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Minister for Education and Training
    The Honourable Geoff Wilson
    Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
    The Honourable Desley Boyle

    Call to keep school attendance moving upwards

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Minister for Education and Training
    The Honourable Geoff Wilson

    Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
    The Honourable Desley Boyle

    Thursday, September 02, 2010

    Call to keep school attendance moving upwards

    Many Indigenous communities across Far North Queensland got the 2010 school year off to a solid start with improvements in school attendance.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Desley Boyle today called on school communities to keep the figures moving in the upward direction.

    The latest data in a Quarterly report on key indicators in Queensland's discrete Indigenous communities January–March 2010 which was tabled in State Parliament today.

    “I am pleased this report shows the communities of Aurukun, Doomadgee, the Northern Peninsula Area, Mornington Island and Wujal Wujal in particular have shown improvements in school attendance rates in Term 1 this year compared to last year,” Ms Boyle said.

    “This highlights for all to see that the hard work being done on the ground by communities, school staff and local Parents and Citizens Associations to support children attend school is paying off,” she said.

    “School attendance in Aurukun for example has consistently improved over the past 12 months from 56 per cent in Term 1 last year to almost 66 per cent for Term 1, 2010. Of course there is more work to do but this is a solid improvement from where this community was in 2008 when it recorded a low 46.1 per cent school attendance.

    “Coen’s school attendance of almost 95 per cent in Term 1 this year exceeds the latest State average of 90.7 per cent.

    “Other communities such as Hope Vale, Mapoon and Wujal Wujal have school attendance rates closing in on the State average.”

    Education Minister Geoff Wilson said the steady and positive rise in attendance was the result of a whole-of-community approach bolstered by solid education programs.

    “We began an Indigenous Education Support Structures (IESS) initiative in 2007-08 with $10 million over four years to create and establish supportive networks for Indigenous students around Queensland,” he said.

    “There is always more work to be done but already we are starting to see the success stories emerge.

    “The Cape York Academy, established last year, is a unique approach to Indigenous education and relies on a whole of community effort to lift education and school attendance in communities such as Aurukun and Coen.

    “The Academy teaches children across three domains – Class, Club and Culture – which span the breadth of learning from the traditional Queensland curriculum in math, English and science to cultural activities and sport.

    “The Academy also uses the evidence-based Direct Instruction model which has shown around the world to be an especially beneficial teaching method for disadvantaged children.

    “These are all part of our wider commitment to Closing the Gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous education which is a worthy goal because the Bligh Government wants to give every Queenslander a flying start to learning and to life.

    “I visited the Aurukun Koolkan Campus in May and I can tell you that there are transformations happening and seeing this first hand means we are on the right track.”

    Mr Wilson said while many communities were showing progress, other communities have a lot of hard work still ahead of them.

    “Schools with low attendance rates are our focus with a number of strategies to boost attendance being put in place,” he said.

    “These strategies often involve partnerships, such as the Learn, Earn, Legend program which provides support to Indigenous students who are finishing school to go on to further study, training or full-time employment.

    “This service commitment from the hard-working staff in these schools is a sign to students that they are worth our effort and in turn inspires them to make a commitment to education and training.

    “Where students are engaged in learning, where they feel supported by their community we know they will not only turn up to school but will become actively involved in it.”

    The Quarterly report on key indicators in Queensland's discrete Indigenous communities January–March 2010 measures six key indicators of wellbeing in 17 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

    The indicators are:
    • hospital admissions for assault-related conditions
    • reported offences against the person
    • breaches of alcohol restrictions
    • new substantiated notifications of harm
    • new finalised child protection orders
    • school attendance.

    Ms Boyle said the report showed when comparing 2007-08 to 2008-09 figures, Aurukun, Cherbourg, Coen, Doomadgee, Hope Vale, Kowanyama, Lockhart River, Pormpuraaw and Wujal Wujal have a decrease in reported offences against the person.

    “In particular in Aurukun, the rate dropped from almost 142 per 1,000 people in 2007-08 to 85.3 per 1,000 people in 2008-09,” she said.

    “In Doomadgee, the rate dropped from 95.4 to just over 62 per 1,000 people, and in Kowanyama it dropped from 106.2 to 64 per 1,000 people.

    “What we want to see is positive trends across all communities and all indicators. Everyone has a role to play in closing the gap and I encourage communities to stay on it.”

    The Quarterly Report is available online at http://www.atsip.qld.gov.au

    Media Contacts: Minister Boyle's Office 3227 8819, Minister Wilson’s Office 3237 1000