Bilingual Education Options
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS referred to MINISTER for EDUCATION
How will this government protect bilingual education options for Indigenous schools in line with article 14 of the United Nations Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous People?
Ms FYLES: A point of order, Madam Speaker! Would the question not be best asked of the Education minister? It is about bilingual education.
Madam SPEAKER: Acting Chief Minister, if you wish to refer it to another minister…
Mr Vowles: It was to me
Madam SPEAKER: It was to the Aboriginal Affairs minister? It is probably strictly with education but it is up to you, government.
Madam Speaker, I thank the Member for Nhulunbuy for such an important question. I would not want to give it the injustice as I do not know the intricacies of that portfolio so I will pass that over to the Minister for Education, if that is okay.
Ms LAWLER (Education): Thank you, Member for Nhulunbuy for the question. I agree it is an important question. In the Northern Territory there are nine government schools that deliver bilingual education programs and I am sure you are very well aware of those. In Arnhem it is Shepherdson College, Maningrida, Milingimbi, Numbulwar, and Yirrkala, one in Katherine which is Lajamanu and three in Alice Springs: Areyonga, Willowra and Yuendumu. These schools receive an additional $2.75m per year to support their bilingual programs.
The department has a coordinator and some of you, I am sure, know that person very well that provides support to these schools and ensures there is a consistent approach to the delivery of those bilingual programs.
In addition to these nine schools there is also more than 40 schools across the Territory that deliver an Indigenous language and culture program in 28 languages. We have the nine, more formal bilingual schools but across the Territory there are lots of our remote schools that also have Indigenous language and cultural programs so I know the Member for Arnhem understands that concept at Numbulwar as well.
In all of our remote schools we have Indigenous teacher assistants and they assist the teachers with the language and culture programs as well. The positive thing is under this government’s Community Lead Schools Initiative Indigenous people in remote communities will be empowered to make local decisions on the way they was to see education services delivered in their school.
Communities will have a say in the education outcomes they expect for their children so if in that community they want to have a focus on bilingual, two-way learning those are the things that those education boards, through the community lead school will be able to achieve.
Community lead schools will be supported with a ten year community education capacity building plan so the community members have the skills, knowledge and support to confidently make local decisions.
One further thing, there has been a discussion paper written called Keeping Indigenous Languages and Culture Strong. That discussion paper is with the Northern Territory board of studies at the moment. They are having a look at that paper and then will provide advice to me.
The documents below are Yingiya's reply to the Court of Disputed Returns and the original application from the NT Electoral Commission.
The NT News is providing some good coverage of the matter. This photo is from an article at www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-01/yolngu-politician-yingiya-mark-guyula-nhulunbuy-seat-explainer/7983366
Parliamentary Question Time: Secondary Education in Indigenous Schooling, School Funding, Indigenous Rangers Powers
Secondary Education in Indigenous Communities
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for EDUCATION
What is the government’s policy on secondary education in Indigenous communities? Will it follow the recommendation of the Wilson report and remove secondary education from bush schools, forcing children into government-operated boarding schools, or will it support education for Indigenous students close to their home communities and kinship support?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Nhulunbuy for the question. A little history lesson. One of the things this Labor government was very proud of was our initiative to put secondary education in the bush. That was a policy of ours when we were last in government.
The previous government developed the report about putting Indigenous kids into boarding schools and is something I am concerned about. I believe all parents in the Northern Territory should have a choice. My children made the choice to attend their local high school and do their secondary education in their town. Indigenous children need to have those choices as well.
There will be some children who enjoy going to boarding school for whatever reasons. They may be wanting to play sport and we see that with many of the Tiwi kids. They want to have an opportunity to play AFL football and if those kids want to go to Victoria they need to have those opportunities at a very young age to develop as football players. But that is a small number of students.
One of the things that we went to the election on was the community lead schools: that is about our remote communities developing school boards and then having input and a say on what sort of education they want for their community. If that board is established and they say very strongly that ‘we want these options for that school’ and whether that is around language programs we will work with them around those things.
Member for Nhulunbuy, thank you for the question. It is a great question on education.
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for EDUCATION
When Labor was last in government I understand the school by school funding equation had a base of 60% attendance. I understand that the last government changed this regime so that there was no bottom calculations made on attendance. Punitive funding arrangements do not allow for schools that will better engage communities in increasing attendance. Minister for Education, will your government now return the 605 bottom line to the school by school funding calculations.
Madam Speaker, I thank the Member for Nhulunbuy for the question. I am heartened to hear that you have such a strong interest in education in the Territory and I am also very keen to provide that opportunity for us to have longer conversation rather than just these three minute replies of mine.
We do know attendance is such a critical issue in out remote schools; the facts are that children need to go to school and they need to go to school regularly. It is of great concern to me; I was just reading a briefing to see that in the department’s annual report that attendance across the Territory had actually gone backwards by 0.8% in the last 12 months. That upsets me; I know the previous government and Minister Chandler were very focused on attendance. It is something that is absolutely crucial if we are to make changes in education. The issue around funding for schools is one that this government has looked at very closely because, yes, there have been cuts to education.
We are putting $20 m back which will see increases in all school budgets; schools have those global budgets and schools will be able to increase either the teachers they have; or they may choose to put on counsellors or teacher assistants. There does need to be attendance but there also does need to be some increases in the funding of schools because they have been substantially cut. Your figure of 60%—I think that is the average of a lot of our remote community schools; but one of the things we are bringing back is that buffer of about 10% around the attendance figures. T
here are times—often in preschools, even in our urban schools—that for whatever reason; sometimes when little ones start schools they get sick. Even in our urban schools we sometimes see low attendance figures in preschool because the children stay home; that affects their funding as well; it is the exact situation you speak about, that schools then cannot afford to put on the extra programs or they are concerned about the funding they have. Member for Nhulunbuy, I am very happy to meet with you to talk in more detail about these issues because getting things right in the bush is vital to making improvements across the Territory. This week I was briefed by MacKenzie who has done some good research in how we move our schools from fair to good and from good to great. The results in the Territory continue to be of great concern to me.
Indigenous Ranger Programs
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
In line with Labor’s election promises, can you outline the new powers that the government will give to Indigenous rangers to look after their country? In line with Labor’s election, can you now commit to more detail to extra funding of resources to Indigenous rangers and if you will; what, when and how will these extras be provided?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I have spoken a lot about our commitments to Indigenous rangers and the Indigenous Rangers program through my Address in Reply and many other times in this House. We have around 40 Indigenous ranger groups across the Northern Territory. I know many members of very aware of the important work they do and have seen much of the work they do in the protection of our land and sea country.
We have committed to ensuring there is a change to the Act to make sure we look at their ability and powers around enforcement, rescue and a range of other areas. This is something we have to work through with local Indigenous rangers groups as well. That work is under way. I am more than happy, Member for Nhulunbuy, to keep you informed of that work as that continues as well because the consultation and involvement of those local groups will be imperative to making sure we get those legislative right in giving them the powers not only to have greater enforcement over the activities they do but in making sure we are appropriately training Indigenous ranger groups to be able to be able to do those additional activities.
I am happy to keep you informed as that work continues. The other area we are looking is making sure there is investment in equipment, things like being able to access vehicles and communications equipment that will help them to undertake their everyday activities, which are a range of things from weed management—which we know is incredibly important in the Northern Territory—feral animal management, fire abatement—they are doing a huge amount of things. We want to make sure we support them in their role.
We have a number of really important commitments around that and, as I said, I am more than happy to keep you informed as we work through that with local Indigenous ranger groups.
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for EDUCATION
I was going to support the boarding school from my end (Kormilda College Motion), but I would like to go further in asking the Education minister—we have a concern that we need our community schools upgraded to lift up the schools and getting them to the highest level where we do not have to send kids to a boarding school in another town or city. We would like to keep them in the communities. The homelands school need to be better than learning centres.
Madam SPEAKER: Member, your time has expired.
Madam Speaker, I thank the Member for Nhulunbuy for the question. I, too, am a firm believer that the best place for a child to be educated is in their home community. One of the previous Labor government’s key initiatives was to make sure that students could access secondary education in their home communities.
That said, there is some work to be done across the Northern Territory to make sure that can occur and the education provided in those communities is of the highest quality.
One of our key election commitments was around community-led schools. That is about working with school communities and the families to identify exactly what they want delivered in their school community. Further to that, this government also committed $5m to upgrades of homelands centres, and I know that is work that desperately needs to be done in the 26 or so active homeland centres.
There is money set aside to upgrade homeland centres. There is also $300 000 per school, allocated by this government, to upgrade all schools across the Territory.
I take on board what you are asking and would be very happy to work with you in the future on upgrading those schools and improve education in your electorate.
Yolngu Matha Introduction
Dhuwal ŋarra dhärran dhiyal warraw’ŋur Wes ministerwal ŋärra’ŋur dhamirriyaŋal limurruŋ yolŋuw walalaŋ buku-ḻiw’maram dhuwal wäŋa ŋaraka Australia. Dhiyal bala gali’ŋur Yolŋuwal ŋunhi maṉḏa Djaŋ’kawuy ga Barama/Ḻany’tjundhu goŋ-gurrupar limurruŋgal. Nhanŋuny dhuwal ḻuku ’ (Parliament) ŋunhi limurr yolŋuw dhu bon-rum’rumdhun ga makmakthun gäri, ga Limurruŋguny dhuwali wäŋa ŋaraka, warraw Nyunumu Djäpul ga Bultjaṉ Bukurrpuŋgurr dhuwa ga yirritja ŋalimurruŋ
(These words I will now translate and expand in English through the body of my speech.)
Madam Speaker, I am from the Liya-dhalinymirr Djambarrpuyngu people of East Arnhem Land.
I am a Ḻiya-dhalinymirr Djambarrpuyŋu leader.
I stand before this parliament here in good governance and respect.
Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the land that I’m standing on and the Larrakia Nations people and their ancestors.
Let me begin by saying, this is not something I wanted to do, I did not want to become a politician but we Yolngu have tried many ways of gaining recognition of Yolngu law and none have worked. I am here as an elected member, but also as a diplomat from the Yolngu Ngärra - bringing two parliaments together.
Our 1998 petition to Prime Minister John Howard read like this:
We request that [the Australian government]:
Similar requests for rights to land ownership and our way of life, and self-governance, were also made in the 1963 bark petition,… the 1988 Barunga statement,… and the 2008 petition to Kevin Rudd…
The leadership of the Yolngu people have always been very public about their request for a treaty. On numerous occasions this has been done by statement and petition to the Australian government….
Perhaps our peoples’ most well-known declaration for a treaty is the song by Yothu Yindi band called ‘Treaty.’
And again, today I bring a letter stick to be tabled in the parliament. This is brought on behalf of the Yolngu Nations Assembly.
The subsequent message is one of the Yolŋu nations outlining the equal standing of their Ŋärra’ institution compared to Australian parliaments. It is therefore a declaration of ongoing Yolŋu sovereignty while also being a diplomatic gesture of intent, and also an invitation, to work toward a place of mutual acceptance between Yolŋu and Australian jurisdictions.
The declaration reads like this:
We declare that we have not been conquered.
We declare that to this day we are a sovereign people.
We declare that we are subject to our Maḏayin system of law constituted by the
Unseen Creator of the Universe and revealed to the Givers of Law:- Djaŋ'kawu and Barama, and we continue to steward this system through our lawful authorities and government.
Our Maḏayin system of law establishes Mägayamirr- peace, order, and good government; is dhapirrk consistent in its statutes; and is assented to by all Yolŋu citizens through the Waṉa Lup assent ceremony.
Our Maḏayin system of law is guarded by the Yothu Yindi separation of powers.
Our Maḏayin system of law is a rule of law not a rule of man.
Our Maḏayin system of law is the equal of any other system of law.
This is the most important thing that I will say today, it is the reason that I am here. It is the reason that I stand before you.
To give you an even greater understanding of why I am standing before you I will tell you about myself:
I was born and raised in the bush. My father did not depend on others. He was given a job by the mission in Galiwin’ku using his traditional knowledge. He used the skills learnt from his father as a crocodile hunter. This is what I learnt in my younger days until I was 10. I stayed away from school. I was camping, hunting, fishing and crocodile hunting with my father and collecting bush foods with my mother.
At 10 years old I made a decision to go to school. I couldn’t read and write and was laughed at. I was put back in a class with younger children and quickly picked up skills. In 1 year, I was put up 3 levels beyond the class where I first started where children had laughed at me. Most of those kids finished school at a post primary level. I went on to Dhupuma College, and then to Nhulunbuy High School. I believe that my learning on country until the age of 10 gave me a strong Yolngu identity and confidence and the ability to succeed in later life. Growing up on my mother’s parent’s country and father’s country was where I was nurtured, where the ancestors know me, where I feel strong standing on my country.
Later I took a job with Mission Aviation Fellowship as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. They had a flying school in Ballarat and I got my unrestricted private pilot license to fly all over Australia. I was learning about Balanda and getting a mixture of culture. I wanted to be back on country for ceremonies and traditional education, but I was also starting to enjoy a Balanda lifestyle. I was like a dog, chasing two masters. I was picking up Balanda habits and then I had to drop that and catch up with my own culture. This is a hard time for many caught in two worlds. People saying, “come to the mainstream.” On the other hand you need to be a leader, learn songlines and ceremonies, which work toward those things that is the law.
I am now at the end of my full education with Yolgnu knowledge. There’s still a lot to learn but I am a Djirrikaymirr. This is a leadership title for those who have a high level of learning. I have the authority to make constitutional decisions: create and reproduce the law. I have established this knowledge since my early 20’s. Over the past 35 years I have dedicated myself to learning Yolngu law. A law that has provided everything we need for thousands of years.
The issue of Yolngu law is the main reason that I have been selected by my electorate to represent them here in the NT Parliament. And I am very proud of all the grassroots support, Yolngu and Balanda together, that circled around this campaign.
I want to return to my story of a dog and two masters. This is two masters going in different directions: one going this way, and the other going that way. We talk about closing the gap but what gap are we talking about?
The people of my electorate understand this gap. It is the gap that is created when Yolŋu law is not properly acknowledged. When the power of self-determination is increasingly being removed.
I understand this pressure. Even as an adult learning to fly– I failed written exams several times but I was always above average in practical exams. I could navigate Victorian country almost instantly. We are capable of learning both ways but we need the strength of our first culture and language to obtain both.
The gap is growing and the only way to close it is with policies of self determination, self management and self governance: Ultimately a Treaty.
This is not the first Treaty for Yolngu people. When the Makassans first landed on Northeast Arnhem Land coast they recognised Yolŋu sovereignty and that a system of governance already existed here. The Makassans negotiation for the right to fish certain waters with our authorities and were granted this right.
In exchange for this fishery agreement, payments of cloth, tobacco, metal axes and knives, rice and gin were made….
We Yolŋu of Arnhem Land also traded turtle-shell, pearls and cypress pine… and some of our people were employed as trepangers.
The relationship between the Maccassans and Yolngu tribes became so intertwined that Maccassan culture became included in some of our songlines and lore…. Songlines of ŋarali-tobacco and ŋanitji-alchohol,… stories like the great-whale hunter Wuymu Wurramala,… and culture like the use of flags.
We had a true international treaty with the Maccassans of Sulawesi. They engaged us with respect and honor and they became our kin.
When I am asking for a treaty I am thinking of three requirements.