Page 1249 - Week 04 - Thursday, 21 March 2013

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MR BARR: I thank Dr Bourke for the question. Thousands. Every single sportsground in this territory, every single sports facility in this territory, has received funding for maintenance and improvements under this government. There are significant programs of infrastructure renewal and infrastructure enhancement occurring in every single part of the city.

Just recently, Madam Acting Speaker, you and Dr Bourke had the great privilege to join me at Kippax oval, home of the Magpies Belconnen Football Club and the Ginninderra District Cricket Club, to celebrate a new, $3 million upgrade of the Kippax playing fields—a fantastic outcome for the west Belconnen community—and we certainly look forward to delivering similar improvements to the Greenway enclosed oval as part of our election commitments for this term of government.

Schools—Indigenous students

MR WALL: My question is to the minister for education. Minister, in the ABS report released on 20 March relating to schools, figures show that Indigenous student retention rates have decreased from 76.3 per cent to 63.1 per cent while other jurisdictions have seen an increase in retention rates. Minister, despite the comparatively small number of Indigenous students in the ACT, why are these numbers trending in the wrong direction for the ACT?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Wall for his question. I did look at the ABS report and I do not think it reflects the reality here. If you read the article in today’s Canberra Times, the ABS spokesperson also acknowledged that datasets could be volatile, with small changes in numbers having a large impact on the retention rate.

With respect to the retention rate and how it is calculated—it must be remembered that we are talking about very small numbers—it is the number of Aboriginal students in year 7, and then they go forward five years and look at the number that are in year 12. In actual fact, Mr Wall, they work backwards.

I can tell you that in 2012 the number of Aboriginal students was 76 and there were 58 Aboriginal students in year 12 in 2011. So we have actually gone forward. The numbers can bounce around using the method that they use, and they do create big movements. For example, the retention rate apparently dropped 13.2 per cent from 2011 to 2012. It increased by 17.5 per cent from 2010 to 2011. It jumped by 21.2 per cent between 2003 and 2004 and dropped by 28 percentage points between 2004 and 2005.

Whilst it is an ABS report and it clearly puts out a figure, we would rather look to our numbers. When we look to our numbers we have a good retention rate and a good achievement rate for our Aboriginal students in the ACT.

MADAM ACTING SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Wall.

MR WALL: Minister, what monitoring is undertaken to follow the pathways taken by Indigenous students who fail to complete year 12?

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