Millions of dollars intended for remote Indigenous students is not making it to schools, Independent Northern Territory MP Yingiya Mark Guyula said this week.
Mr Guyula said although the Federal Government had said it was paying the NT Government on the basis of enrolment, the NT Government was only paying schools on the basis of attendance.
“The Federal Government states it will provide $10,222 per enrolled student on Elcho Island in 2018,” Mr Guyula said.
“This is over $6 million in federal government funding alone that should be given to the school and community.
“However, I have met with the School Council and they have been advised they will receive less than $4 million in total for 2018. I have spoken with other schools in the region and they are all facing similar situations.”
Mr Guyula said the NT Department of Education policy of funding schools based on “effective enrolment” meant that remote Indigenous schools were running on minimal funding and could not meet the needs of the children who struggled to attend.
He said all government Indigenous schools in his electorate of Nhulunbuy had projected funding cuts in 2018 because the NT government was not providing funding for students who did not attend regularly.
“Schools have been working hard to engage children who struggle to attend every day,” Mr Guyula said.
“Some schools run special classrooms to try and prepare these kids for regular attendance.
“Historically, some schools have held a mobile classroom that moved around the community, holding lessons at different houses and outdoors in order to engage kids who were struggling to attend.
“Now these efforts are threatened as the children that these programs cater for are no longer funded by the department – despite federal funds in their names.”
Mr Guyula said he wanted to know where the money was going.
A spokesman for Federal Indigenous Affairs minister Nigel Scullion said the Federal Government wanted more transparency from the NT Government.
“The Minister shares these concerns and would welcome more transparency from the NT Government about exactly how much funding goes to remote schools as intended,” the spokesman said.
The NT Government said federal education funds went directly into school budgets or services to support schools.