Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 1983..
MR BARR (continuing):
I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.
MR BARR: I am pleased to present to the Assembly the report on performance in indigenous education. As members of the Assembly are aware, there has been a slight change in the reporting period for these reports. I appreciate the support of Assembly members in making that change. The change, as you will recall, shifts the two reports from the previous reporting period of September through February and of March through August to an interim half-yearly report covering the period January through June and a more comprehensive annual full-year report. The report I have presented today covers the 2005 school year.
Mr Speaker, 2005 saw the full implementation of a number of initiatives arising from the 2004-05 budget. These included the opening of a new Koori preschool at Ngunnawal, bringing the total number of Koori preschools to five; targeted support to year 4 indigenous students who were in the lowest 20 per cent in the year 3 ACTAP results through the employment of an additional 3.5 indigenous literacy and numeracy consultants; and employment of a leadership and mentor officer who is working closely with the indigenous college transitions officer in supporting indigenous students in the critical secondary years. In addition to these budget initiatives, the On Track program, which is funded by the government's community inclusion fund and is aimed at addressing issues of self-esteem, absenteeism, literacy and numeracy, commenced full operation. On Track targets both male and female indigenous students and is a follow-on to the Birrigai boy's program, a trial run in 2004.
The report of the steering committee for the review of government service provision entitled Overcoming indigenous disadvantage key indicators 2005 quotes from an OECD report that "attendance at preschool and school has a significant impact on later academic success". As the report I have presented today shows, the enhancement of the Koori preschool program has provided greater opportunities for indigenous children to participate in early childhood education and has resulted in a significant increase in the number of children attending preschool. The five preschool sites-Ngunnawal, Wanniassa hills, Holt, Calwell and Narrabundah-now operate on two days each week from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm. During 2005, enrolments increased from 95 children in February to 132 in August.
It is pleasing to note that the improvement in year 3 reading and numeracy results in 2004 continued in 2005, with 95 per cent of the indigenous students being above the benchmark in reading and 93 per cent above the benchmark in numeracy. Of equal importance is the fact that the proportion of year 3 indigenous students achieving the national benchmark or better was 95 per cent, the same as for non-indigenous students. There was also an improvement in the numeracy results for year 5 indigenous students.
Mr Speaker, the government has made a significant commitment to improving outcomes for indigenous students and it is important to note that, in comparison with other states and territories, the ACT is a leader. However, the challenge for us is to eliminate the gap between the outcomes for indigenous and non-indigenous students. We need to investigate and address the fact that indigenous students achieve at the same level as