"Girls academies services" to help young Aboriginal women at Dubbo with their education will continue in 2021, but with a new provider at the helm, a federal government body says.
The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) brought some certainty on Thursday, naming the successful applicant to run the support at Dubbo College's three campuses as National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA).
WA-based Role Models and Leaders Australia (RMLA) had operated the Girls Academy program at Dubbo College since 2017, with students telling of it helping them to succeed in their education.
RMLA said in a statement on December 27 it had been advised it would not be funded beyond its current contract and its program, operating in 43 schools, would cease to operate from December 31.
As the NIAA reported the results of the competitive grants process, it said increased funding of up to $36 million over three years would see more "girls academies" launched while maintaining support for 2900 students in 46 existing sites.
An important update on the @ScottMorrisonMP Government’s support for Indigenous girls and their studies.— Ken Wyatt MP (@KenWyattMP) January 7, 2021
We will provide up to $36 million over 3 years to expand the number of sites & available places to support more than 5,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls. https://t.co/vryEVcNUQg
The NIAA told the Daily Liberal of its efforts to achieve "a smooth transition".
"The NIAA is working closely with the outgoing and incoming providers and the NSW Department of Education to ensure a smooth transition of services, including to ensure that existing staff are offered employment opportunities with the new girls academy providers where possible," a spokesperson said.
"NIAA has offered additional funding to maintain salaries for front line staff in January 2021 to support RMLA employees while the transition to new providers occurs."
NASCA CEO Leanne Townsend reports the Redfern-based organisation has "a lot of connection to the Wiradjuri mob".
Two of its directors were even former graduates of its programs in Dubbo, she said.
NASCA had worked in Dubbo College's three campuses and at Narromine for a period of more than eight years until four years ago, she said.
"We have a team already who work in Dubbo, live in Dubbo and they're servicing in Wellington High School, and we're really pleased and excited to be returning to Narromine and into Dubbo," she said.
"So there are a number of community school staff and principals who know who NASCA is and have that positive experience and I anticipate there will be those who are just as excited about our return as those who don't know us yet...
"But certainly understand why there's a cause for concern about change in the immediate phase, but we're about hard work and putting our beneficiaries first and community first and we understand that is the most authentic and best way to do our job."