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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4114 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

critical incidents that are beyond the scope of the home school liaison officers, and provide executive support to the manager of the indigenous education unit.

Secondly, in relation to indigenous student outcomes, the attendance rates for indigenous and non-indigenous students in primary schools show no significant difference. The gap between indigenous and non-indigenous students in high schools is still a matter of serious concern. The budget initiative mentioned earlier will assist in decreasing this gap through providing additional support to follow up cases where indigenous students attendance is not satisfactory.

Indigenous students continue to enter kindergarten with lower initial skills in literacy and numeracy than non-indigenous students. More research needs to be carried out to identify the reasons for this. Improving pre-school services to indigenous students may be achieved by building on the success of the program.

The ACT assessment program has been completed for this year. The results will be available for the next report to the Legislative Assembly. Indigenous students in the primary school years participated at about the same rate as non-indigenous students. In the high school years the gap between the participation rates for indigenous and non-indigenous students was greater. The new support structure will enable better communication with students and family that will include emphasising the importance of students participating in the assessment program.

Thirdly, in relation to vocational education, this is the first report to the Assembly that has included vocational education. Indigenous students are benefiting from these opportunities to develop vocational skills while in years 11 and 12. Indigenous students are enrolled in a variety of vocational education courses, with hospitality and automotive technology being popular.

Fourthly, in relation to human resources, increasing the level of indigenous staff in the ACT Department of Education, Youth and Family Services continues to be a high priority. The teacher recruitment round for 2003 has been completed, with an increase in the number of indigenous teachers applying. I am hopeful that the target of three additional indigenous teachers will be met.

Linking the services provided across the department and with other government departments is essential so that indigenous students and their families get the best possible support. The indigenous education budget initiative is designed to link in with other government initiatives, such as the high school development program and the indigenous youth alcohol and drug project.

Finally, Mr Speaker I would like to emphasise the importance of this report. It demonstrates that the government's initiatives and programs are starting to address the needs of indigenous students and their families. I look forward to continuing to work with both the department and the broader ACT indigenous community and the indigenous education consultative body to ensure further improvement in the performance of indigenous kids in our schools. I commend the fifth six-monthly report on indigenous education to the Assembly.

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