Feds put students’ hostel in a place without school

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – The Federal government is embarking on a desperate plan to shift responsibility and some of the costs for its failed NT indigenous boarding school program to the Northern Territory government.

 

The $42 million 152 bed 3 hostels project announced by the Rudd government in 2008 is in tatters as the Federal government belatedly attempts to hurry through a face saving, responsibility shifting draft Heads of Agreement with the Northern Territory government.

 

This is a textbook example of waste and mismanagement and political interference. Now they want to tidy up the mess before the next election.

 

So far over $16 million has been spent on the Wadeye hostel with a net gain of one student after it was revealed that there were only 16 residents with all but one from homes within walking distance of the facility.

 

A senior bureaucrat from the Federal Department of Education visited Darwin recently to hand over the draft document to NT bureaucrats which was accompanied by a threat to withhold Stronger Futures funding if the NT government did not sign up within three weeks.

 

The document admits that security issues, student engagement and the quality of services have caused the poor enrolments and wants the NT government to put in extra police to protect the students.

 

The Federal government said it will work with Aboriginal Hostels Ltd and the Catholic education office on the quality of service being offered – meaning something is seriously wrong here.

 

The parents do not want their kids to go there for good reason. Why didn’t someone ask them in the first place?

 

The fact is the decision was announced and set in concrete by local Labor MP Warren Snowdon before they got a feasibility study done to determine the viability of this crazy experiment.

 

Warren Snowdon announced that the second hostel for 72 students would be located at the isolated location of Garthalala where there was not even a school for them to go to.

 

Their own independent feasibility study said not to build it there. After spending $650,000 there is nothing to show for it.

 

With cost blowouts the number of beds was reduced to 40 and now the Federal government is saying that it will be a staged project building up to a facility for up to 20 students.

 

They also want the NT government to pay for the provision of school facilities, teacher housing and teaching staff.

 

Senator Nigel Scullion (pictured)

Coalition spokesman for Indigenous Affairs

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