Newman Education Engagement & Attainment Initiative

The initiative, previously known as the Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS), has undergone a name change and is now referred to as the Education Engagement & Attainment Initiative.

Funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), this initiative aims to provide comprehensive support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families, with a focus on improving school attendance and academic achievement. Unlike traditional approaches, the program extends its assistance beyond the individual student to encompass the entire family unit.

Operating on a case-by-case basis, the initiative offers a wide range of holistic support services tailored to the specific needs of each child and family. These services encompass various aspects, including but not limited to transportation, school supplies, uniforms, meals, access to outreach programs, and referrals to other support services. Moreover, the initiative collaborates closely with families to identify barriers to school attendance and develop personalised strategies to address them effectively.

Lee-Anne Ugle emphasises the importance of a holistic approach, stating, "Because of the complexity of the families we work with, we address their needs comprehensively on a case-by-case basis." Both Lee-Anne and Sammi Ryder highlight the program's focus on supporting the most vulnerable and at-risk students and families.

Additionally, outreach programs play a crucial role in building rapport with students and families. Lee-Anne Ugle emphasizes this point, stating, "Our outreach programs help us build a better rapport with our students and families." She further underscores the challenges faced by many students in maintaining stable living arrangements, stating, "Our students have an address and a phone number, but it changes, they go from home to home, and we need to build strong rapport with them to know where they are."

In essence, the Education Engagement & Attainment Initiative embodies a comprehensive and compassionate approach to supporting Indigenous students and families in their educational journey. Through its tailored support services and collaborative efforts, the initiative strives to foster positive outcomes and empower communities to thrive.

Why is there such a strong demand for these services to meet the needs of the people in these remote areas?

 Due to a combination of home, school and individual factors, it is a common occurrence for children in remote communities for children to skip school.

Although the available data on attendance and retention is limited it shows that the gap in school attendance and retention between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is large (Closing The Gap Report, 2020). The proportion of students attending school is some ten percent lower than non-Indigenous students and this gap increases as the level of schooling increases (Closing The Gap Report, 2020).

As a result, the main goal of the Education Engagement & Attainment Initiative is to increase attendance rates in schools situated in remote areas, so that all children are provided with quality education to flourish.