Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough told Charles Darwin University campus radio station Territory FM yesterday morning (November 8) that the proportion of Aboriginal children not attending school may be higher than previous estimates.
Interviewed by Daryl Manzie on a range of Indigenous problems, Minster Brough said that the number of children who never get enrolled at school could be as high as 30 per cent.
'Non-attendance of children enrolled at school is bad enough,' he said. 'But there is also a large number who never get enrolled, and we think that could be as high as 30 per cent in some remote communities. I’m undertaking to do research on that all of next year.'
In his forthright style, Minister Brough said that Indigenous children had to be involved in schooling from the age of five, and that learning English and gaining numeracy were basic to an Indigenous child’s future.
'We have to engage them in learning English, not at the expense of their own language, but if they do not come out of school learning English, they will be locked into where they live or being fringe dwellers,' he said.
'People often argue that schooling did not suit all children. But 90 per cent of success at school is actually being there. If you’re not actually there you’ve got no chance.'
Minister Brough said that his government was prepared to invest in new housing in Indigenous communities in a big way – provided there was fundamental change in behaviour.
'We’re no longer prepared to gift houses to people, only to have them trashed,' he said.