On the 31st of March, our CEO, Tony Cree was invited to address the Federal Parliament Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs.
Tony had submitted a report earlier in the year on access to education and difference models on Indigenous Education. The committee was chaired by Ms Melissa Price, the Federal Member for Durack in Western Australia.
In his opening address, Tony spoke of the importance of one-to-one tutoring in efforts to raise Indigenous literacy levels. “We believe that one of the main reasons for the static nature of literacy with Indigenous students, as indicated in NAPLAN tests, is the decline in the availability of one-to-one tutoring. Literacy, unlike maths and other subjects, really has to be taken as an individualised approach. Diagnostic testing will indicate a variety of learning difficulties, ranging from poor knowledge of the alphabet to no knowledge of blended sounds or an inability to analyse the written and spoken word.”
The committee was especially interested in the success of the ALF Aspire Program for girls and Attain program for girls. The programs enjoy a high level of success with Indigenous students and have the potential to greatly improve youth reading levels in Northern Australia.
“I feel that one of the big problems, particularly with Aboriginal girls … is poor self-esteem and lack of belief in themselves. With the Aspire program, we have mentors who are successful Aboriginal women who have become teachers or have some important or relevant role to the students in the community. We have them, basically, to encourage the girls to stay on in the program. All Aboriginal programs have a little bit of a problem with attrition — we do lose students, and this is one of the main ways of keeping them on.” Tony said.
Another area of interest for the committee was our book program for Northern Australia. It is not generally known that the ALF is the largest non-government supplier of books to Aboriginal schools.
The address and interview lasted approximately 45 minutes and was felt to be extremely positive. It’s hoped that some of the ALF’s initiates will be taken up by both government and non-government organisations in the future.