I rise to condemn the Albanese government, which has axed plans to build two remote boarding schools for some of the most disadvantaged Indigenous students in the country. This makes a mockery of Prime Minister Albanese’s visit to the Garma Festival, where he spoke of giving children the opportunity of a better life.
In 2021, the coalition announced $74.9 million to build three new schools in Western Australia and the Northern Territory and to upgrade a fourth, existing boarding school in the Kimberley under the innovative Studio Schools model. These schools, fully funded by the coalition, were vital to lifting school attendance and providing a safe and stable learning environment. But the two proposed year 7 to 12 schools—Dhupuma Studio Secondary School in East Arnhem Land, near where the Garma festival is held each year, and the Roebourne studio school in the Pilbara—have been axed. Not only was funding to the Building Boarding Schools on Country program cut; the education minister, Mr Clare, failed to deliver the additional funding required because of the cost escalation, due to Labor’s skyrocketing inflation rate, to build these schools. These schools would have been transformational in boosting school attendance.
What hypocrisy from the Prime Minister, who had the temerity to claim in his speech at the Garma Festival that he wanted an Australia where more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are going to school. How many Indigenous children must forgo an education while the Prime Minister spends $384 million on the Voice referendum? While Mr Albanese goes to Garma to tout his commitment to Indigenous Australians, more than 150 Indigenous students miss out on the schooling they desperately need and deserve. Shame on Labor.