• Pat Dodson joins Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to put Indigenous education on the agenda on day one of the election campaign. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has launched his election campaign with a policy to increase the number of Indigenous teachers.
Ella Archibald-Binge

9 May 2016 - 5:19 PM  UPDATED 9 May 2016 - 5:19 PM

Labor will fund 100 Indigenous teaching scholarships a year for the next four years, said Mr Shorten, making his first official election announcement from Cairns West State School.

Evenly distributed between men and women, the scholarships are valued at $5,000 per year of full time study and will be available for up to four years of continuous study.

Mr Shorten says the policy is designed to counteract the "unacceptable statistics" in the education system.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up around 5 per cent of the school population, while only 1 per cent of teachers are Indigenous. 

"The truth of the matter is that our school system isn't doing as well for these children as it is for non-Indigenous children," Mr Shorten says. 

"I am incredibly committed to making sure that any child in this country - doesn't matter how rich their parents are, doesn't matter how much income there is in that family - that they all get access, wherever they live, to a quality education."

Campaigning alongside Mr Shorten, WA Labor Senator Pat Dodson says Indigenous teachers provide strong role models for students.

"Having Indigenous models in the classrooms encouraging young Indigenous peoples to pursue their dreams and aspirations and education is so critical," he says.

The scholarship scheme forms part of Labor's $100 million funding commitment to provide targeted support for Indigenous students through: 

  • Early intervention literacy and numeracy programs.
  • Breakfast clubs.
  • Attendance, parenting and family support programs.
  • Targeted professional development and training for teachers.
  • One-on-one tutoring and mentoring.

Mr Shorten said Labor would work with educational institutions to establish criteria for the scholarships.