A group of Aboriginal parents, students and educators fear “life changing” benefits from extra school funding will be stripped if the Government does not fund the last two years of the Gonski model.
Indigenous representatives from schools in three states will meet Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Wednesday.
They are expected to tell him the Gonski funding allowed schools to hire Aboriginal education assistants, provide homework support, specialist literacy and maths support and mentoring programs.
They say the funding boost is helping close the gap with mainstream students, having improved indigenous school attendance and results.
The campaigners fear the benefits will be lost if the Government fails to match Labor’s commitment to fund the final two years of the Gonski model.
Senator Birmingham said the Government knew funding was important, but that what you did with it mattered even more.
“The Government’s discussions on future funding will not just be about how more money is spent but will seek to ensure we lift school outcomes too,” he said.
“The Turnbull Government remains committed to engaging prior to 2018 in discussions with the states, territories and non-government sector about post-2017 funding that is fair, transparent, needs-based, affordable and looks beyond just a two-year horizon,” he said
Culturally appropriate support makes dramatic difference
Shakeela Williams, a 17-year-old student at Vincentia High School near Jervis Bay, New South Wales, is one of 149 Aboriginal students who make up 14 per cent of the school community.
She says the funding has made a big difference to her.
“Even out of the school hours I get tutoring two days a week and that really helps me,” she told AM.
“That really helps me to excel in all my subjects.”
Gai Brown, a parent and education officer at Vincentia High said that in the past the curriculum and support “wasn’t culturally appropriate”.
“There was no support to look into what things might interest them to engage them,” she said.
“It happened to a whole generation of our children from the community. You leave school at 15, you don’t know what you want to do. They had no options, they felt like they had no choice.”
Ms Brown said two of her sons went to the school before there was extra help and both were expelled at 15.