• Walk Together for Change 2015 (Girls Academy)Source: Girls Academy
Girls Academy has offered support and mentoring for Indigenous girls in their final years of schooling for almost two decades.
Sarah Collard

30 Dec 2020 - 3:12 PM  UPDATED 30 Dec 2020 - 3:12 PM

The Federal Government announced on Wednesday it is ceasing current funding arrangements for the Girls Academy, with new providers are set to be announced. 

Founded in 2004 by the non-Indigenous Olympian and former basketball player Ricky Grace, Girls Academy offers mentorship and support to more than 2,500 Indigenous girls around the country.

The Federal Government will be providing additional funding to more Indigenous-led and operated organisations to support future Girls Academy programs from 2021. The National Agency for Indigenous Australia opened up tender bids to other organisations earlier in 2020. 

In a statement, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt said the funding would offer more opportunities for young girls. 

“By providing culturally appropriate, in-school support to keep students engaged in their studies and motivated to complete Year 12, students can realise their potential and make successful transitions into work or further study."

The Role Models and Leaders Australia (RMLA), who currently provides the Girls Academy programs, will not be funded beyond December 2020. RMLA said it is working with the Morrison government to ensure a smooth transition for staff and students. 

“All parties will work together to ensure the best employment outcome for our frontline staff from 2021 onwards and also facilitate the transition of any equipment to the new providers,” RMLA said in a statement on their website. 

A spokesperson for Ken Wyatt for the Minister said mentoring and support programs would be offered through schools by a number of different organisations - largely Indigenous-owned and operating in local communities. 

Current Girls Academy staff took to social media, "heartbroken, disappointed and devastated" over the decision, and fearing more than 150 staff could be out of a job. 

The Federal Government said the RMLA had been advised earlier this year that existing funding arrangements would be opened up for tender, and funding was not guaranteed after it was granted an extension to the end of December.  

“In July 2020, NIAA advised RMLA that its contract would be extended until 31 December 2020 and that the NIAA would be running a grants process to select providers to deliver Girls Academy's services from January 2021.”

A spokesperson for the Federal Government also said it was hoped current staff members would be re-employed through new service providers. 

"NIAA is working closely with outgoing and incoming providers to ensure a smooth transition of services, including to ensure that existing staff are offered employment opportunities with incoming Girls Academy providers."