Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017
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
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 9 May 2017 1659 Territory students, especially our most disadvantaged students in remote and very remote communities, continue to fall behind their peers. While some governments find it convenient to propagate the lie that money does not matter, it does. The evidence shows that. Money well spent makes a huge difference in education. Education funding distributed based on student need and equalising access to resources makes a difference. Money spent on improving teacher practice, leadership development, and approaches that enable every child to make gainsthis is the investment that makes a difference. This is where the dollars need to be spent. We are delivering these important initiatives through our mentoring program for early career teachers, our principal leadership program and programs for high-achieving students. These are the things the contemporary education research shows make a difference. These things cost money. Some of the members opposite seem to have forgotten their role in the systemic and calculated defunding of our schools and the shameful neglect of our most disadvantaged students and their families. Let us not forget that as a consequence to the CLP ripping over $100m out of the education system, 500 people lost their jobs. This had a direct impact on the support available to students, especially our most disadvantaged students. If you take six teachers out of a school like Ngukurr, in the Member for Arnhems electorate, that will have a great impact on the programs that can be offered for those students. This government knows the importance of investing in our children and in their education. Budget 201718 is delivering $1.1bn in education funding right across the Territory. As we heard from many members in this House, this funding, particularly the $20m boost to 2017 school budgets, is already making a difference to our students. We have grown the budget for 2017 school resourcing to a record $489m. I am proud of how Labors extra funding is expanding the range of secondary options available to students in remote and very remote communities. The Member for Arafura outlined that his family made the choice that boarding school interstate was the best option for him. However, he stated that the people in his electorate want choices for their children. They want their children to grow up with the confidence to walk in both worlds and to maximise their potential and choices in life. The previous government was against giving these young people choices, pushing instead for everyone to go to boarding school. While this is a fine option for some, it is not for everyone. As the evidence shows, to really make a difference the pool of resources for schooling needs to be distributed fairly and equitably based on student need. The need to take a look at the way funding is distributed between schools in the NT is something I have heard loud and clear from school councils, principals, teachers, parents and other stakeholders. That is why in the lead-up to the election we committed to reviewing the global school budget funding methodology. The review has now commenced. The Member for Spillett is sceptical of this work which shows just how out of touch she is with our schooling sector. Those who have been paying attention know that a review of the funding methodology for NT schools is well and truly overdue. This is what educators have been asking for. We are delivering extra into the funding pool for school budgets, not taking away from them. We need to make sure this funding is distributed equitably. This government is unapologetic about its focus on education. We will continue to make sure education is talked about in this House, that there is open discussion and debate, and that there is transparency and accountability. We have heard loud and clear from families, teachers and health professionals in our community that support for students with additional needs is falling short of what is needed. That is why, as part of our funding boost, there is an extra $8m each year for early intervention, tackling challenging behaviour in the classroom and supporting students with additional needs. This funding includes a range of initiatives, including more flexible school options for at-risk youth and scholarships to support more educators to specialise in supporting students with additional needs. Amongst the other things I outlined in my statement, this funding will also improve student access to allied health professionals and expand the teams that support teachers to meet the needs of students. This will include more speech pathologists; occupational therapists; psychologists; speech, language and communication teachers; and a new conductive hearing loss education adviser. As the Members for Arnhem and Barkly, and others, have noted, hearing loss is a major issue impacting on students in remote and very remote communities. Tragically, over 90% of children in remote areas have some form of otitis media, which often causes hearing loss.
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