Boarding Australia is concerned about the potential impact on Indigenous boarding students in the event that Kormilda College’s boarding program was to cease operation.
CEO of Boarding Australia, Dan Cox, says that “demand for boarding places continues to grow across the Territory, and NT boarding options are important to many students and their parents.”
Secondary-school students from remote communities do not have always have access to secondary education in their community. For most remote students, this means boarding is their best option in furthering their education and improving their opportunities.
ABSTUDY data shows that around 400 Indigenous boarders from NT currently board interstate.
Boarding Australia’s work with the Remote Indigenous Parents Association (RIPA) has also highlighted the strong connection that many families have with Kormilda spanning three decades. Some families have had multiple generations attend the boarding program.
RIPA members agree that a more local boarding option is often preferable for families who have connections in Darwin.
“A boarding place within the NT can ensure that students are close to family connections and that parents from remote communities are able to visit from time to time”, Mr Cox says.
Boarding Australia’s President, Anthony Bennett, manages a boarding residence for Indigenous students in Adelaide. He also notes the importance of boarding options that are near family or other networks. “Isolation from family and community is a significant factor in boarding placements that do not succeed – distance obviously contributes to this isolation” he said.
Closing Kormilda’s boarding service would mean that approximately 170 additional boarding places would be needed in 2017 – and capacity within the Northern Territory is limited. The result would be an even greater reliance on interstate boarding options, many of which are close to capacity.
Without wishing to speculate on Kormilda’s financial position – or that of any other Indigenous boarding service – Boarding Australia has been advocating for a review of the ABSTUDY system and the way that boarding and education payments are administered for remote Indigenous students. This includes a better reflection of student need and circumstance, as well as the type and location of the boarding service being offered.
Boarding Australia is an industry body which aims to support secondary boarding organisations and staff with information, training and advocacy. Boarding Australia has a particular interest in boarding for remote Indigenous students.
For more information, contact Dan Cox, CEO of Boarding Australia on 0428 864 537.