Needs-based funding will close out disparity

Kerri Carr

Gonski schools funding will redress Indigenous disadvantage, says Federation President Maurie Mulheron.

Introducing the latest Closing the Gap report, Prime Minister Tony Abbott writes “disparity remains” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and “in many areas progress has been far too slow”. The report covers a period before the introduction of Gonski funding, including an Indigenous loading, in 2014.

Mr Mulheron said no strategies aside from Gonski funding were needed to improve Indigenous students’ educational outcomes.

“After just one year of Gonski funding we are getting good reports the inroads being made,” he said.

“If Mr Abbott were serious about Aboriginal education he would not be reneging on funding the fifth and sixth years of the Gonski agreement, which would bring significant funds to the education of Aboriginal students.”

The Closing the Gap report finds plans to halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements for Indigenous students by 2018 is “not on track”.

“There has been no overall improvement in Indigenous reading and numeracy since 2008,” the report comments.

Ensuring access for all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote communities to early childhood education by 2013 was also not met: “In 2013, 85 per cent of Indigenous 4-year-olds were enrolled compared to the target of 95 per cent.” 2014 data is not yet available.

Halving the gap for year 12 or equivalent attainment by 20–24-year-olds by 2020 is on track.

A new target has been set: to close the gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous attendance within five years.