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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3935..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

Moving on to kindergarten, the progress made last year by many of the 68 indigenous children in their first year of schooling was also pleasing. Nevertheless, results show that early intervention programs are crucial if advances in learning are to be made, with the number of indigenous students identified as in need greater than the number of non-indigenous students.

Early intervention measures are a primary feature of the government's social plan and include a significant number of specific indigenous strategies to assist families and children. The college years still present considerable challenges for indigenous students, with 69 per cent of those who commenced college in 2002 receiving a year 12 certificate at the end of 2003. While that figure can be compared with 90 per cent completion for non-indigenous students, it is a 35 per cent increase on the previous year, which is an excellent improvement. In recognition of this difference, a new indigenous transition program for students in years 10, 11, and 12 commenced during this reporting period to assist indigenous students to move more successfully through their senior secondary years.

To complement this initiative, members will be aware that this government has also provided new funding for the establishment of mentor and leadership programs for senior indigenous students. Another significant achievement to note is the increase in the percentage of indigenous students with a year 12 certificate or a vocational education and training certificate. The expanding nature of youth services for indigenous young people is evident in this report, with funding provided to support closer connections with other community service providers and their programs.

I wish to draw the attention of members to the comparison of some of the important characteristics of indigenous persons in the ACT with those found elsewhere in Australia. This data is from the ABS national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social survey 2002. This comparison shows that the ACT is above the national average in all aspects of education attainment.

The report discusses the outcomes of a number of indigenous educational programs and initiatives. Whilst we acknowledge that sound progress has been made in some areas over the six-month period, more remains to be done. With a concerted whole-of-government approach to indigenous issues, I am confident that greater benefits and results will manifest more clearly over time. I look forward to hearing about continuing gains for indigenous students and their families.

This report and future reports continue to remain of prime importance to the ACT government. We are committed to enhancing through education the lives of and opportunities for the local indigenous community and its young people. We support the national approach of Australian governments working together to address indigenous disadvantage. I commend to members of the Assembly the eighth report on performance in indigenous education.

Bushfire recovery and renewal

Ministerial statement

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and

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