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Albanese Government fails indigenous youth on Alice Springs community safety package

Joint media release

Shadow Minister for Education, Senator the Hon Sarah Henderson
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

The Albanese Government has grossly misled Alice Springs residents over a community safety emergency response package which has denied equitable funding to high-risk indigenous students in local schools.

In May, Education Minister Jason Clare announced that 46 Central Australian schools would share in $40.4 million for ‘On-Country Learning’ to improve school attendance and engagement as part of a package of measures to combat youth crime in Alice Springs.

The schools were asked to ‘develop tailored solutions to better engage children and young people in school and provide them with the wrap-around support they need to succeed.’

Indigenous independent school, Yipirinya School in Alice Springs, where 300 students are enrolled many of whom are vulnerable and suffering acute disadvantage, has been advised by Mr Clare it will receive only $329,000, not the nearly $1 million it was expecting.

It is understood that 10 independent and catholic schools, including Yipirinya School, will receive only $2 million while the lion’s share of the $40.5 million will go to government schools, funding calculated under the ‘Gonski’ School Resource Standard and not for the purpose of combating the Alice Springs crime wave.

“This funding was meant to keep young people in Alice Springs at school, off the streets and out of jail. The Albanese Government has disgracefully plugged a territory government funding hole rather than use this money to combat youth crime,” Shadow Minister for Education, Sarah Henderson said.

“In propping up the Northern Territory government which is providing only 59 per cent of the 75 per cent funding required under the School Resource Standard, Jason Clare has profoundly misled local schools.”

“Yipirinya School’s plan to build a satellite school at Burt Creek, 60 kilometres north of Alice Springs, is now in ruins. An ‘on country’ satellite school would have supported many aboriginal students who currently have to travel up to 300 kilometres a day to attend school. The money Yipirinya will receive will barely cover the running costs of school buses for one semester,” Senator Henderson said.

“The Albanese Government is all about selective voices. They have no interest in listening to local voices when they don’t like what they have to say,” said Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.

“The Albanese Government has turned its back on Yipirinya School which is desperately seeking funding to build boarding facilities to keep children safe at school. Once again, some of the most high-risk students in Alice Springs have been betrayed by a government that is all talk, and no action.”

“The Alice Springs emergency response package was meant to combat the Alice Springs crime wave which has brought my home town to its knees. Yet, almost eight months on, Labor has barely rolled out a cent and communities are still in need,” Senator Nampijinpa Price said.

“The government parades the schools funding as for On-Country Learning but they cannot tell us how this will get children back into schools. They still can’t even explain what On-Country Learning means or how it will get children back into schools and keep them safe,” said Senator Nampijinpa Price.

“Where is the fairness in slashing funding from schools which are most in need?”

“Communities in Central Australia can expect $2 million to be spent on CCTV cameras and lighting. Yet $7 million will go towards ‘strong governance.’ Which of these will help members of the community sleep safely at night?” Senator Nampijinpa Price concluded.

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