Bilingual Schooling Program
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS referred to MINISTER for EDUCATION
Last sittings I misfired this question and it landed on our Minister for Education, but I believe it lies within your portfolio. Over many years bilingual schooling programs have been the target of bad politics and various governments and the Northern Territory Education department. How will this government protect bilingual education options for Indigenous schools in line with Article 14 of the United Nations’ Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Nhulunbuy for his question. I am happy to answer it although the Minister for Education is the one who does the work on bilingual and homelands and other important areas of schooling in the Northern Territory.
Going into the last election, we said we would increase the amount of funding going towards education in the Northern Territory and go down the path of community-controlled schools and give them the ability to make the decisions that are important to them in their school context, around bilingual or other forms of education they might want to pursue. We would give them control of their school environment and make sure there was extra money going into their global school budgeting system to make sure they had the capacity to make those decisions.
I have had good conversations with the Minister for Education about making sure that has been put in place and schools get that control and decision making so we are supporting choice in schools and making sure all children who are going to our schools have their best opportunity to succeed. We all want the best for our children.
We recognise that from place to place in the Northern Territory there are different contexts, and different decisions need to be made for those schools. That is why we make decision-making as local as possible. It is not me dictating, from Darwin, the education context in that school. We are trying to provide community control to that school in their environment to make their own decisions around bilingual education and the timing of school terms, as some schools such as Gunbalanya have already done.
There is control at a local level over what is suitable at that local level, and there is money going into the system to provide the flexibility for that decision-making. I will ask the Minister for Education to add some more to that.
Ms LAWLER (Education): Madam Speaker, I would like to add that in the last week or so I have received a draft from the NT Board of Studies, a document called the Indigenous Language and Culture policy, as well as a working paper. That will give schools some very clear directions—schools that want to revitalise a language or teach a bilingual program. There will be some clear directions from the department on that, which will be able to be instigated in schools.
As the Chief Minister said, these decisions are school based; that is the way of this government. Rather than the department mandating or saying what needs to be done, it will be up to the work of those school communities.
A document will be released; we will make that announcement and make sure you receive copies of that, but there will be some clear directions for schools.