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Yipirinya School welcomes Central Australian boarding school assessment, urges action on “impending crisis”

Callan Morse -

Alice Springs' Yipirinya School has supported the joint federal and Northern Territory Governments' direction for an assessment of boarding school options and capacity for First Nations students in Central Australia.

Yipirinya School principal, Gavin Morris told National Indigenous Times the school welcomed the announcement.

"We are relieved that after many months of highlighting the needs of our school community, this request for boarding options is finally being responded to at a Federal level across the Indigenous Australians and Education portfolios," Mr Morris said.

Providing culturally appropriate and responsive approaches that meet our students and families' needs and aspirations, Mr Morris said he was pleased to hear that Yipirinya's approach was echoed in this announcement.

"The $40.4 million allocated to Central Australia for On-Country learning, of which Yipirinya School will receive $329,000, will support our learning community to engage the most marginalised, disadvantaged, and resilient members of our nation," he said.

The assessment will be jointly conducted by the National Indigenous Australians Agency, the Commonwealth Department of Education, and the Northern Territory Department of Education.

In addition to Yipirinya School, local schools Yirara College and St Philip's College will also be consulted as part of the assessment, along with other stakeholders including the Central Australian Aboriginal Leadership Group, the Central Australian Regional Controller.

Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said consultation would be at the forefront of the assessment.

"Listening to the views of people in Central Australia is an important step and is consistent with the approach we are taking in our plan for A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia," Ms Burney said.

"It is important to understand the current provision of supported student accommodation, existing expansion proposals and the needs of remote students.

"The approach to education in Central Australia must focus on the needs and aspirations of young people and their families."

Mr Morris said prompt action needed to be taken following stakeholder consultation to prevent an "impending crisis" in Alice Springs.

"We urge the Federal Government and all relevant stakeholders in this process to expedite this "assessment"; in Alice Springs we have an impending crisis looming for our community this Summer, escalating the need for secure and safe accommodation for our students and families," he said.

"We call upon all stakeholders involved to listen and respond with urgent action to the voices of Yipirinya School."

The assessment builds on this investment and will also be informed by the findings of the Northern Territory Government's Review of secondary schooling.

As part of the $250 million landmark plan for A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia, an additional $40.4 million has been allocated to the 46 schools in the Central Australia region for On-Country Learning.

"This is about working with local schools and local Indigenous leaders to make sure students have the support they need to reach their potential," Federal Minister for Education, Jason Clare said.

Federal member for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour said the approach is aimed at making sure Federal funding is targeted, accountable and in line with the needs of the community.

"It's really important we work through the boarding needs and views from the local community in Central Australia," Ms Scrymgour said.

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