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Addressing Systemic Neglect of Young Indigenous Children's Rights to Attend School in the Northern Territory, Australia

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: March-April 2012 Pages: 99-113
June Slee
Date Published
April 2012
15 pages
This paper examines low attendance rates for Indigenous youth in Australia's Northern Territory, and discusses ways to improve the situation.
Indigenous children in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia have the highest school non-attendance rates and the lowest literacy and numeracy outcomes in Australia. The NT Department of Health and Families classifies failure to send children to school as neglect, and as such, a form of child abuse. This paper contends that the failure to provide children with learning opportunities by a lack of insistence by authorities on attendance is a form of systemic neglect. It suggests that an educative approach is required to lead rather than coerce students into attending school, encouraging maximum participation in learning experiences that bridge cultural landscapes, and is inviting, inclusive and informed. The purpose of this paper is to recommend changes to ongoing systemic neglect of school truancy by examining models that build an Indigenous teaching staff and in so doing, integrate culturally responsive teaching with systemic support to produce a 'school attending' culture. Ethics approval for this paper has been sought and approved from the NT Catholic Education Office. (Published Abstract)