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SNAICC welcomes federal budget education funding

Dechlan Brennan -

The peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has welcomed the additional funding for education in the federal budget, arguing it will support efforts to close the gap. 

Handed down on Tuesday, the budget saw $74.8m worth of funding over four years to develop a new National First Nations education policy, as well as $2.4m over three years to implement the First Nations Teacher Strategy to increase the number of First Nations teachers in school. 

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children welcomed the budget’s education focus, especially initiatives targeted towards new policy developments and program delivery.

Chief executive Catherine Liddle said SNAICC was receiving “dedicated funding for the first time” as is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Corporation (NATSIEC).

Just over $29 million over four years - with $8.7 million per year ongoing - has been budgeted for both SNAICC and NATSIEC to partner with the government on issues impacting Indigenous children in early childhood and education. 

“This will give us important ongoing stability, enabling us to continue bringing the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to the development of policies and programs that affect them,” Ms Liddle said. 

“The commitment to a wage rise for hard-working early childhood educators is also welcomed.”

Ms Liddle said she was also pleased to see a funding allocation - worth $5.9 million over two years - to the recently announced National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner.

“This backs up the commitment made by the Prime Minister in February to stand-up the Commissioner, which can oversee efforts to turn the tide for our children ending up in the child protection system,” she said. 

However, SNAICC said despite the funding, they were concerned about some of the important early childhood initiatives not included.

In a budget submission last week, they urged the government to fund affordable childcare for Indigenous families, as well as abolishing the childcare subsidy activity test - which was not altered in the budget - and supporting Aboriginal community-controlled organisations (ACCOs). 

A three-year, $9 million dollar pilot program for the Early Years Support program - delivering tailored support for ACCOs in early childhood education and care - expires in December. 

“As an example, investment of $14.3 million in line with the Early Years Strategy does not make any mention of allocating a proportion of this money for ACCOs,” Ms Liddle said. 

She said the government “missed key opportunities” to change the way they interacted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations by investing in Indigenous-led decision making and partnerships — a key recommendation in the Productivity Commission’s review into Closing the Gap.

“Investing in the early years sets our children and families up to thrive,” Ms Liddle said.

“Get the early years right and we will not have to spend ever increasing millions on broken child protection and youth detention systems.

“Closing the gap starts with our children and is where investment has the most impact.”

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