Government takes over troubled school

by Robert Ballantyne06 Jul 2016

Queensland's education department will take over schooling in the beleaguered Indigenous town of Aurukun following a string of violent incidents that saw teachers evacuated, an attempted home invasion and a principal assaulted and car-jacked.

On Tuesday, the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced her government would implement all 27 recommendations from a recent 67-page review into the school.

Some of the key recommendations include the government to take the lead in education delivery, Years 7 and 8 to be introduced and an independent financial audit of the school’s current financial arrangements.

Palaszczuk also took aim at the school’s US-based direct instruction, which the review found had mostly taught students about American culture, with very little reference to Australian or Indigenous culture.

Palaszczuk announced that the previously stand-alone model would now be taught alongside national curriculum.

However, the community’s Indigenous leader, Noel Pearson, said direct instruction helped students with low cognitive function achieve better results than they otherwise might have, he said.

“It's like a disabled child who's won a bronze medal at the Special Olympics. Is that a legitimate achievement ... or are you going to say to that child 'well that's all very well, but you can't keep up with the people in the real Olympics'?” he said.

“That is the whole problem in the way in which this school has been assessed.”

Palaszczuk said having the direct instruction model taught alongside the national curriculum was an acknowledgment that direct instruction does work in some remote locations.

“What we found with this report into Aurukun, is there needs to be a bit more focus on the national curriculum, but also on culture,” she said.

She added that Aurukun elders wanted students to learn more about Wik culture, which would be included in the school improvement action plan to be overseen by the education department.


  • by Sceptical 6/07/2016 12:54:25 PM

    So by all accounts there is violence in the community that apparently has nothing to do with the students who attend the school yet the school is reviewed .. Sounds like the government is trying to distract from the real problem .. Violence in the community ... skeptical of DoE position in this ..

  • by Simonzee1 6/07/2016 2:04:21 PM

    This is not an education problem but a community problem. Noel is doing his best under difficult circumstances. He has put himself on the line to help his people. What we are seeing is the long effects of the post-mission rent seeker agency failures on display.

    When and if ever these communities wise up to the fact that this rent seeker system creates the priveledged while the majority misses out they might push for a community led change will that is more egalitarian after hitting rock bottom. Is not the culture largely egalitarian along with their law. We laud our Native Title system that delivers much money only to see it create a wide chasm between the haves and have nots. But still these communities go backwards faster as the money flows quicker and then slower and then stops. In Nullagine W.A $900,000 of trust funds were spent on four wheel drives in one hit. Where is the long term planning in that? The state these communities are in is sad and this is not anyones fault but the collective community and government that has failed to help direct monies into long term employment projects for people alongside cultural enrichment programs.

    The same dysfunction applies to many other communities across the country with suicides as young as 9. Have you ever wondered why the ABC did a 4 Corners Report on the treatment of cattle and couldn't even upon multiple request get a conscience to do a report on the welfare of children in indigenous communities?

    The truth is these politicians do not know what to do and it is about time we saw a revival of culture and spirituality coming back to the centre of these communities. If Indigenous people do not do something soon with determination and not continue to give into what Martin Luther King called "the drug of gradualism" they will be under the patronage of the same activists like they have in America who control politics there. Just like Indigenous Indians and black Americans. Is that a future? No that is control and a reshaping of a culture in their image. And all the cultural appropriation and puppetering will come with this.

    At the end of the day when it comes down to telling the truth of the welfare of these communities and the real issues of concern well then look no further than the establishment Clinton and Loretta. The truth is always furtherest from the truth when activists step in and activists and politics has failed. We have failed our Indigenous people abysmally and the generational trauma in what is being repeated in these communities is a blight on us as a nation. Equally so the will of Indigenous people has been weak along with the leadership. We are hearing about these problems here because an Indigenous person dared to care and risk the inevitable backlash from inside and outside the community just as it is the case of a person or persons is being weaned from a drug addiction with a history of trauma. That is the extent of the challange. Good on you Noel for daring to make a difference.