The first cohort of truancy officers have been deployed in the small Indigenous community of Gunbalanya, 300 kilometres east of Darwin.
By
Brooke Boney

Source:
NITV News
7 Jan 2014 - 4:47 PM  UPDATED 7 Jan 2014 - 6:04 PM

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has visited the community on the first day of the school year to launch the Coalition’s initiative and improve education outcomes for Indigenous children.

He says the results from today’s launch proved that community engagement is necessary for closing the gap on education.

"You’ve got to have the community completely involved if you want to get a real change on the ground. The results are pretty evident," Mr Scullion said.

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised $28 million to help stop children wagging school.

But Mr Scullion says the success they've had today isn't about the money, but about community consultation.

"This has been successful because the community has been involved from the start," Mr Scullion said.

The small community of Gunbalanya or Oenpelli is the first of 42 schools to trial the federal government’s truancy program.

Increasing enrolment was a key focus of today’s launch, and minister Scullion says the results were incredible.

"We took the enrolment from last year up by 40 per cent, that's never happened in Gunbalanya, full stop. We’ve gone from 55 per cent to 91 per cent," Mr Scullion said.

However, the program hasn’t gone without criticism from government representatives.

The mayor of Gunbalanya has been quoted saying he thinks this program will, like the many other before it, fall short of expectations.

"We need to do something about this racism that stops Indigenous kids from achieving," Mr Scullion said.

Truancy officers will be working in 19 other Territory communities by the end of this month.

The program will be rolled out in the other 41 schools on the first day of term.