Australia: AEU launches report calling for an education future for Indigenous communities

published 23 October 2007 updated 23 October 2007

Education is the key, says the Australian Education Union (AEU) in launching its report on Indigenous education in Darwin on 23 October 2007.

Entitled "Education is the key - An education future for Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory", the report takes a critical look at the current education system in the Northern Territory and the many challenges in the region to the provision of quality education for Indigenous children. The report assesses the unmet needs in Indigenous education and the serious disadvantages that Indigenous children and communities currently face. It calls on the Federal and Northern Territory governments to work in partnership to ensure that all children in the Northern Territory have access to and participate fully in high quality education. It concludes that the Federal government has the primary responsibility to provide funding to make this a reality.

It is estimated that as many as 7500 Indigenous children in the Northern Territory do not attend school or preschool. In most cases, the teachers, classrooms, chairs and desks simply do not exist to accommodate them. Recent Federal Government legislation allows the incursion, without traditional owner consent, into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. According to the government, the legislation is aimed at reducing child abuse. More apparent, however, is that the government is using the serious issue of child abuse to further malign, stereotype and marginalize Aboriginal people. In addition, the new legislation and recent Federal Government’s interventions clearly undermine existing legislation designed to protect Aboriginal rights, namely the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. The 5th EI World Congress passed an urgent resolution opposing the new legislation, “Emergency Response in the Northern Territory”, and calling for a stop to legislative changes to the land permit system and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights' Act. The subsequent letter to the Australian Prime Minister John Howard also included a request for a meeting. To date EI has had no response. For a copy of the letter dated 10 October 2007, and the summary or the full version of the AEU report, in English, please refer to the links below.