Dear PM its not a Gap it’s a Chasm

A while back I retired as the State Coordinator of Aboriginal Education from 1999 to 2012 for a major education system. During my tenure Indigenous students enjoyed their highest an continually growing outcomes both educationally and socially. There were two reasons for that.

Firstly, targeted IESIP funding where I could hold accountable schools using ever growing targets as well as controlling the uses of Indigenous funding.

Secondly and most importantly there were large numbers of Aboriginal Education Workers in all schools.

Sadly, since the removal of targeted funding there are less and less Aboriginal people working in all schools.

There were also 2 other programs that made a huge difference.

Firstly the Aboriginal student support and awareness program ( ASSPA) which was the Aboriginal equivalent to PC. Since this was abolished, there are very few Aboriginal parents involved in any way with schools.

Secondly Homework Centres Where Aboriginal students could study without the distraction of their home lives. Many also had access to IT that in many cases was not affordable at home.

I used to obtain laptops from very generous people and our IT people used to update then all for free.

There was also a program called Training for Aboriginal people (TAP) which had subsidies that helped greatly. I know because I ran the old CES program that was their most successful in placing long term unemployed in particular Aboriginal people.

I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the value and vital need for AEWs. Hardest part was no one had ever covered this subject before which beggars the question why? Might have been the title “ “Skilled Uncles and Aunties Smoothing out the Bumps on The Way To Learning”.

Education is the key to closing the gap. Better education leads to better jobs/careers, leads to better salaries, health housing and all-round quality of life.

Frank Pearce


Frank is Uncle to thousands of young Australians. He recently retired after an exemplary career in Catholic education. He achieved the remarkable distinction of being awarded the Br John Taylor Award for his contribution to education. His talents are now directed towards building communities and championing projects which will bring benefit to all Australians. His achievements span education (preschool to university), employment and welfare. His achievements also have been recognised through his appointment to the Board of Trustees of Books in Homes. He was a member of several Advisory committees including the NSW Board of Studies and the Dusseldorp Foundation. Through his work as lecturer at the University of Notre Dame Frank has greatly influenced the lives of young teachers empowering them to teach with greater understanding of perspectives in Indigenous education. He is now a member of the advisory council for The Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education.

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