Indigenous education on the rise in region

Locals pose with musician Roger Knox at last year's Cultural Echo Festival.

Local kids pose with Roger Knox at last year’s Cultural Echo Festival.

More Indigenous students are enrolling in Goondiwindi schools says CARE Community Justice Coordinator, Cheryl Moggs.

She says she has seen more participation in education among Indigenous families in Goondiwindi and surrounding regions like Boggabilla and Toomelah.

“The people that are coming across into the schools and starting to value education and they’re taking initiative themselves – the parents and guardians and other people – to actually close the gap for their own community and families,” says Ms Moggs.

The news comes as the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed that targets were on track to halve the gap in Year 12 graduation rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Students.

“As parents universally we want more for our children… we want our children to have opportunities that we didn’t have,” the PM said when he delivered the 2016 Close the Gap Report to the Federal Court this morning.

Despite the optimistic outlook for Indigenous education, the Prime Minister’s report revealed that efforts to close the gap in other areas such as health, employment and life expectancy are falling behind.

The report indicates that Indigenous employment has fallen from 53.8 per cent in 2008 to 47.5 per cent in 2012-2013.

Cheryl Moggs and others at last year's Cultural Echo Festival.

Cheryl Moggs and others at last year’s Cultural Echo Festival.

Ms Moggs, who also has a background in education, says that opportunities for Indigenous Australians in rural and remote areas like Goondiwindi are especially slim.

“I grew up here… there really hasn’t been anything here for Indigenous people and we don’t have a TAFE here so resources for them to get training is very limited, they have to go to Toowoomba,” she says.

“We’re really isolated for resources and support is just pretty limited.”

She says a top-down governmental approach to closing the gap has been ineffective and more on-the-ground support is needed for local initiatives.

“I think they really have to make it more localised and speak to the community and look at how we can actually close the gap at a local level instead of decisions being made by government departments or somewhere else out of the district.

“Until they start listening to the people and the communities in regional and remote areas, you’re just going to waste resources continually.

“It’s pretty much the same thing we’ve been saying for the past twenty years… try the bottom-up approach for a change.”

Mr Turnbull said the government was still committed to closing the gap initiatives.

“Closing the Gap targets remains a key government priority and these must be accompanied by the recognition of the success of many Indigenous people in many areas, in all parts of society,” he says.

“It is not until we close the gap between Indigenous and other Australians that we can truly say that we are a country of equal opportunity.”