The Morrison Government has announced funding to deliver girls academies across the nation.

The Government will provide up to $36 million from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy to deliver more girls academies across three years.

This follows Role Models and Leaders Australia (RMLA) Girls Academy program announcing that it will stop operation in 2021 due to funding. The program will end after 16 years of service.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt announced in a statement that the $36 million will expand site numbers and identify available spaces to support more than 5,600 young Indigenous women in their education.

“This significant investment in girls academies demonstrates the Morrison Government’s commitment to supporting more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women thrive in their education,” Minister Wyatt said.

“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 funding will see effect as of the start of the new school year.

“From Term 1 2021, there will be even more mentoring and wrap-around support available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women in more schools across Australia,” the Minister said.

“The funding also backs in Indigenous-led initiatives, with the additional support to be provided largely by Indigenous controlled or led organisations.”

The statement notes the recent open and competitive grant process ran by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) which selected new providers.

The Government is yet to announced what providers will be delivering new girls academies and within what areas.

Concerns were raised regarding the job security of those within the current Girls Academy organisation, particularly frontline workers.

However, the NIAA has noted it will work to ensure staff are offered employment.

“NIAA will work closely with outgoing and incoming providers to ensure a smooth transition of services, including to ensure that existing staff are offered employment opportunities with the new girls academy providers,” read the statement.

“NIAA will also support existing staff while the transition takes place before the start of the school year.”

Whilst the announced funding complements the $39.8 million dedicated in the 2020 Budget to the Clontarf Foundation, young Indigenous women are receiving less at a later date.

Questions remain around the safety and support of young women in the program who have developed connection with the organisation and frontline workers.

By Rachael Knowles