National Close the Gap Day

March 16 marks National Close the Gap Day, held to share information and take action in support of achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030.

Last month, The Closing the Gap: Prime Minister’s Report 2017, gave a progress report about Closing the Gap targets on Indigenous health, employment and education.

The report comments that when reading and numeracy skills of Indigenous students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 were measured, only Year 9 numeracy is on track to meet the target of closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students by 2018.

The report continues: “That being said, half of the eight areas showed statistically significant improvements in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at or above the national minimum standard between 2008 and 2016. The four areas with significant improvement were Years 3 and 5 reading, and Years 5 and 9 numeracy.”

Federation President Maurie Mulheron credits resourcing provided by the Gonski schools funding program for improvements in student outcomes in the past three years.

“School principals have been reporting significant lifts in student achievement with 36 per cent of funds delivered to schools — imagine what could be achieved if the full Gonski funding agreement was implemented,” he said in February.

He questioned how Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull could cut schools funding when the target to halve the gap in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students by 2018 was not on track.

The Gonski funding model was designed to significantly raise resource levels to improve learning outcomes for lndigenous students. Many Indigenous students attract funding loadings for low SES, small school size and remote school location in addition to the base loading and the loading for being Indigenous.

Currently the Coalition government proposes to drop funding for the last two years of the Gonski funding program (worth $3.8 billion in extra resources in 2018 and 2019).

Mr Mulheron says Mr Turnbull should support the full implementation of the six-year program contained in the Gonski agreements with the states and territories when schools funding for 2018 and beyond is determined at the June COAG meeting.