Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017



Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017

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Parliamentary Record 5


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




pp 1623 to 1686


Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Tuesday 9 May 2017 1649 Investing in kids in their early years is not just smart economic policy; its the right thing to do. Investing early in kids lives helps prevent social and health problems developing later on. Experts know it, parents know it and its what Labor will deliver. I stand in parliament as someone who has had the benefit of a good education. I went to boarding school in Melbourne, (inaudible) College, for five years, and then attended Melbourne University, where I studied a Bachelor of Education (Primary) but deferred my studies. My family chose for me to go to boarding school in Melbourne, as many people of my generation did, because secondary education opportunities in our home communities were very limited. For some families attendance at boarding or residential schools offers real opportunity so kids can focus on education in a supportive environment. I know this firsthand. The tyranny of distance and homesickness can be hard, but I see newer models of boarding, like the Tiwi College model at Pickertaramoor, which is working well for Tiwi Islanders. Kids are able to remain on country, be immersed in quality learning in a supportive home-like environment with house parents, and remain connected with their families. I have had the benefit of being raised by a loving and caring family, who have always valued education and wanted to make sure I had a good education because that was my passport to the future, employment, independent living and to be able to raise and care for my own family. That education is what allows me to walk in two worlds: as a proud Tiwi man who knows his language and culture, but also knows how to operate in the modern western world. I am not saying I advocate sending all our kids to boarding schools; I can only speak for myself, but having choices is very important. This is what the families of my electorate, Arafura, tell me. They want their children to grow up and have the confidence to walk in both worlds, to maximise their potential and choices in life, to be healthy, educated kids who grow into healthy, educated adults in control of their own destiny. As I travel around my electorate I see so many wonderful things going on in the schools, from Tiwi Islands to Croker Island and the Arnhem Land communitiesa mixture of government and Catholic education systems. I see hard-working teachers and bright kids with much potential. I will mention a few names of Indigenous people who inspired me to get an education: former Deputy Chief Minister Marion Scrymgour; Esther at Oenpelli School; Maurice Rioli, my idol; and, last but not least, the latest recipient of the Logies for new talent, Robbie Collins. All the schools in the Arafura electorate are remote, and the students for whom English is not a first language are fluent in several other languages and dialects. But we know, as the minister said, the Territory has the highest level of socioeconomic disadvantage and remoteness in Australia. Without the right support and investment in school infrastructure and resources, along with investment in our teachers and school support staff, our schools and kids will do it tough. That is why Labors investment of an additional $124m over four years is so important. A key part of this election commitment has been delivered in the education portfolio as an additional $20m directly into 2017 school budgets for government schools. That is $20m this year. Other members have spoken about what this means for their schools, but I want to place on the record that a number of the schools in Arafura will see just over $1m out of the $20m pool. It makes a big difference to Gunbalanya School, Mamaruni School on Croker Island, Pularumpi and Milikapiti schools on Melville Island, and Warruwi School on Goulburn Island. These schools are planning where their share of this $1m might be spent to best benefit their school community, whether it be resources for students in their classrooms, additional staffing or other identified needs. I note that Maningrida intends to use a portion of these funds to fund the vehicle that allows teachers to travel to support students living and learning on homelands. I recognise the importance of supporting the aspirations of families who wish to raise and educate children on their traditional clan estates. I am really pleased to see Maningrida prioritising support for homeland residents. I wholeheartedly support the minister when she says this government believes that local decision-making delivers better outcomes and lasting solutions. She is 100% correct when she says this. It is especially true in remote and very remote communities.