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Funding cuts to hit programs that aid Aboriginal learning

Under the government’s proposed childcare package, the Budget Based Funded service program, which funds early education and care services for many Aboriginal communities, will terminate from July 2017.

Geraldine Atkinson, deputy chairperson at the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), describes this move from the government as “detrimental to all Aboriginal children nationwide”.

“To tell you the truth, we’re really disappointed” Atkinson said. “Aboriginal children just won’t be able to survive under this new initiative.”

Leanne Gibbs, chief executive of Community Child Care Co-operative, said, “Children will miss out because budget-based services and Aboriginal child and family services have been developed and established to meet the particular needs of Aboriginal children and families and they’ve been doing a fantastic job delivering that service.”

Atkinson explained how the budget-based funded program has had its many advantages for Indigenous children in the past. “Through the budget based funded program, we’ve been able to get Aboriginal children through school and completing Year 12,” Atkinson said. “There’s a wealth of information on how the early years greatly impacts children and how access to good early education programs is beneficial for a child. What we’ve seen happen is children doing better educationally.

“There is a gap in the education outcomes for Aboriginal students, compared with the rest of Australia. There are still 50 per cent of Aboriginal children who aren’t accessing early childhood programs.”

Atkinson said that out of the $3.5 billion that will be added to the childcare assistance package, $100 million should go towards adequately providing for early childhood services, especially taking into account Indigenous children.

“I want the government to seriously consider how they would keep funding these services with something similar to the current budget funded based model, but even better and more sustainable,” she said.

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