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 1660 Overcrowding has been shown to increase the risk of preventable conditions, such as otitis media. As the Minister for Housing and Community Development outlined, we are now addressing prevention through the $1.1bn Room to Breathe program. The Minister for Health and I have also supported the establishment of the hearing and education for life working group. This is an initiative driven by the Council of Government School Organisations in partnership with the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory. The working group also includes the Departments of Health and Education, and will focus on a holistic approach to supporting families to better respond to this important issue. As a teacher and a lifelong educator it was inspiring to hear from many of the members in this House that a passion for education was one of the reasons they chose to put up their hand to serve their community as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The Member for Nhulunbuy said he came into parliament to raise issues about education in Indigenous communities, especially in his electorate, which has some of the most remote and disadvantaged schools and homelands in the Northern Territory, and probably Australia. The Member for Nhulunbuy raised the importance of bilingual and homeland education provision to the people in his electorate. This government has been clear in its support for increasing education options for students in remote and very remote communities. Over half of the $20m funding boost for 2017 school budgets has gone to schools in remote and very remote areas. As part of this governments Building Better Schools initiative, in addition to the $300 000 that every school receives for upgrades over the term of this government, there is an additional $5m for upgrades to homeland schools. The first schools to benefit from these homeland upgrades will be the Yirrkala Homelands, which has developed a master plan to upgrade its schools. This government supports schools to implement teaching and learning programs that respect and reflect students cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Last month the Northern Territory Board of Studies released a plan to strengthen the teaching and learning of Indigenous languages and culture in NT schools. A revised NT curriculum of Indigenous language and culture will be developed for implantation next year. Induction programs and professional learning for two-way bilingual teaching teams of Indigenous and nonIndigenous teachers will be part of this work. It promotes engagement between schools and local communities in making local decisions. It is being done in collaboration with local communities, elders and language custodians. As the Chief Minister said, history shows us that local decisions are usually the right decisions. Our government will give local decision-making power back to the bush in key areas, including education, through the community-led schools initiative. This initiative is about schools being responsive to community needs and communities having decision-making power. The Chief Minister and Member for Arafura pointed out that this is already working in Gunbalanya. Under the previous governments independent public schools initiative, the school has some flexibility to strengthen community decision-making processes through a board. This has proven successful and will inform the roll-out of community-led schools to other remote areas over the next 10 years. We need to build on the good work happening in our schools and communities, regardless of which party was in government when it was conceived. That is something the Member for Spillett and I agree onnot throwing out the good work, and we have not. We have looked carefully at programs and infrastructure commitments. Budget 201718 invests $141.7m in improving school infrastructure across the Territory. This provides much-needed economic stimulus and jobs for locals through the improved Buy Local policy. We have continued to honour a range of school infrastructure commitments from the previous government. Contributions from the Deputy Chief Minister and others also acknowledge the positives of many infrastructure investments of the previous government in schools. The new special school on Forrest Parade, which I am opening on 1 June, is a beautiful school. It is lovely to see about 80 children with additional needs there. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit recently. Mr KIRBY: A point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker! I seek an extension of time for the minister, pursuant to Standing Order 43. Motion agreed to.