Aboriginal Students Falling Behind in Western Australia

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The Report on Government Services released today by the Productivity Commission, reveals Aboriginal students in Western Australia have the lowest outcomes in literacy and numeracy of any state in the nation.

The report also found the WA average for numeracy amongst Aboriginal students was 70.7%, compared to the national average of 76.2%.

United Voice Secretary Carolyn Smith says at a time when Aboriginal students in WA are clearly struggling, the State Government has made the wrong decision to cut more than 110 Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer positions from the system.

“This government should be committed to closing the gap, not ripping away $4.7 million from AIEO funding,” she said.

“AIEO’s play an essential role in the lives of Aboriginal students and help them to get the best start possible.”

United Voice member Troy has been an AIEO for the past five years.

He says the role of an AIEO incredibly important.

“We try to look after the wellbeing of children,” he says.

“This can mean many things like home visits, it could mean (helping with) food, it could mean pastoral care, it could be emotional care.

“Quite often we will work with children who have issues at home or who have disabilities. It is a varied role where just about every facet of looking after a child is done.”

Throughout his years as an AIEO, Troy has often gone above and beyond for his students, from assisting them with their school work to offering them a shoulder to cry on.

One personal story he shared was when he assisted a young student who had diabetes.

“There was a girl I was working with and she was having issues in class and I felt there was more to it than her just not doing her work,” he says.

“So I went and talked to the parents and through investigating, I found out she had diabetes and her diet wasn’t very good.

“From that we ended up helping the parents and getting them involved with a GP to help with her medication.

“Long story short, she’s in high school now, and I ran into her a month ago in a shop and she was like a different person; bright and happy. So it was a great success story. It was great to see that journey with her ended up being successful.

“I think that’s what drives you. I stay there because these are the things that spur you on and drives you. You want to have that outcome for other children.”

Troy says to improve Aboriginal Student outcomes, there needs to be more AIEO’s in classrooms.

“There’s no doubt more AIEO’s in schools make a difference to the outcomes with children’s education. So I’d say having more is definitely better.”

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