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Estimates: Questions about disciplinary absences for First Nations students

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Thursday 4 August 2022, I asked about addressing disproportionately high disciplinary absences among First Nations students. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: I will ask a quick question before going to the member for South Brisbane. It is related to the question earlier from the member for South Brisbane around the disproportionately high number of disciplinary absences, and that applies equally to First Nations students. I note your answer previously that this issue does fall predominantly to Education Queensland while this department’s role is more in advocacy to Education Queensland. Director-General, what sorts of representations have been made to the department about how best to address disproportionately high disciplinary absences amongst First Nations students and what kind of funding and additional programs do stakeholders consider would be most effective in addressing this?

Mr Sarra: I appreciate your acknowledgment of the context of the earlier questioning. In many ways it relates to the Closing the Gap targets, which we are all interested in. I note that the education department—I will not speak too much on their behalf—is very committed. They have engaged in various measures to embrace local community leadership for a more focused dialogue on local First Nations issues in and around education. From our perspective, as a department we have worked very hard over the last couple of years as part of the Local Thriving Communities agenda, which sets about enabling and bringing forward local decision-making bodies and enabling voice at a local level so it can influence service delivery and service design. The example that comes to mind is the Mapoon community. It is a very neat little community and a great place to visit. There is very good, strong leadership there. They embraced the Local Thriving Communities agenda; in fact, they were the first to embrace it with some gusto. Among their first and most immediate concerns was how schooling was done, in particular secondary schooling in Weipa. Given they have come forward as a local leadership entity, their views and that particular entity was embraced seriously. I understand that through those conversations they were able to influence how education was delivered in a way that was more in line with what they were needing as a community. From a broader perspective, it is akin to that notion of shifting beyond doing things such as Aboriginal education and Aboriginal health to people to doing things with people. We have worked extremely hard as a department to enable that Local Thriving Communities agenda, which is exactly about that.

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