The first Premier’s Priority developed in partnership with the Aboriginal community has been announced – an ambitious target to significantly increase the proportion of Aboriginal students completing year 12, while maintaining their cultural identity.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Priority would work towards increasing the proportion of Aboriginal students attaining year 12 by 50 per cent by 2023. This would mean an additional 1200 additional Aboriginal students in NSW attaining year 12.
“Education is the great enabler and that’s why finishing school is so important. Recent studies show a clear link between completion of Year 12 and future outcomes, whether it be employment or further education,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Currently, around 70 per cent of Aboriginal young people do not finish year 12 in NSW. With the announcement of this ambitious new Priority, we are signalling our clear intent to do better.”
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin said engaging with families and communities was critical to improving Aboriginal educational outcomes.
“Helping young Aboriginal people reach their full education potential means they will be better equipped to fully participate in the cultural, social and economic life of their community,” Mr Harwin said.
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the new target would build on a number of existing programs that had delivered successful outcomes.
"It is crucial that as a Government, we continue to focus on ensuring Aboriginal students are supported in the education system. Giving Aboriginal students the confidence to aspire to be the best they can be is so important, and I look forward to watching more children thrive as part of this priority,” Ms Mitchell said.
Cindy Berwick, co-chair of the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations and President of the NSW Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group, welcomed the focus on Aboriginal education brought by the new Premier’s Priority.
“This is a significant occasion. It is the first time there has been such a strong partnership between the NSW Government and the NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations,” Ms Berwick said.
The new target complements the NSW Government’s strong record of supporting indigenous communities, and initiatives include:
- Language – established Australia’s first Aboriginal Languages Trust, under the Aboriginal Languages Act 2017.
- Procurement – implemented an Aboriginal Procurement Policy, to award at least three per cent of domestic contracts for goods and services issued by NSW Government agencies to Aboriginal-owned businesses by 2021.
- OCHRE – the NSW plan for Aboriginal Affairs, which commits the NSW Government to working with Aboriginal communities by building strong working partnerships.
- Stolen Generations Reparations – reparations payments have been delivered to survivors in addition to Funeral Assistance Fund payments.
- Tertiary students – Invested $10 million in Australia’s first Indigenous residential college at UTS to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into tertiary education.
The new Premier’s Priorities comes after the release this week of new priorities targeting literacy and numeracy across State schools, open spaces, recidivism, suicide and homelessness. The full list of Premier’s Priorities will be released later this week.