Sarah Game, South Australian MLC, Pushes for Immediate Reform

Sarah Game, a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) for One Nation in South Australia, is calling for urgent changes to address the educational outcomes of children in state care. Her proposed Statutes Amendment (Children in Care) Bill 2023 aims to improve transparency and accountability within the education and child protection systems.

sarah game one nation mlc. official photo.

Sarah Game One Nation MLC. Official photo.

Key Provisions of the One Nation Bill:

Mandates annual meetings between the Minister for Child Protection and the Minister for Education to exclusively discuss educational outcomes of children in state care.

Ms. Game highlighted the urgency of the issue, referencing alarming statistics. “Only 27.4% of children in year 9 state care met the Standard of Educational Achievement for Numeracy in 2021,” she noted, drawing on NAPLAN results. The Education Department’s NAPLAN report underscored this concern: “Performance of children and young people in care is consistently well below the performance … across all three measures [literacy, numeracy, and writing] and across all year levels.”

Systemic Failures

The educational system has failed children from socio-economically disadvantaged families, with students from these backgrounds making up over 50% of temporary suspensions and 60% of exclusions, despite representing less than 30% of the general student population.

Absenteeism rates also reveal stark disparities: Category 1 disadvantaged schools have nearly a 25% absenteeism rate compared to just 6.4% in Category 7 schools.

Ms. Game is adamant that both the Education and Child Protection departments must take responsibility. She has also called for a Select Committee to investigate chronic student absenteeism and school refusal.

Call for Action

“This bill is about mandating better communication and clear reporting of outcomes,” Ms. Game stated. “One Nation believes in tangible outcomes and transparency. This is targeted. It will reveal eye-opening data that will drive real change.”

Currently, neither the Child Protection nor the Education departments take full responsibility for the academic outcomes of students in state care. “At present, no one is tackling this issue,” Ms. Game said. “Child Protection says it is not their responsibility. Education says it is not their responsibility either. The academic outcomes of students who are living under state care should be the responsibility of both Ministers.”

Ms. Game criticized the lack of data tracking. “We do not know what percentage of students suspended or excluded from school are in the state care system, because that information is simply not being recorded. We do not even know how many of them complete SACE each year,” she added.

Ms. Game introduces her bill to the Upper House on Wednesday, March 8, aiming to ensure that the educational achievements and aspirations of children in state care become a priority for both departments.

Sarah Game and One Nation aim to appeal to the Australia’s Silent Majority that cares more about their country than politicians from the major parties.

Uphill Battle

The proposed bill by One Nation aims to address the educational inequity faced by children in state care. However, its passage faces significant challenges due to opposition from various sectors. Critics argue that while the bill highlights an important issue, it lacks comprehensive solutions to the systemic problems in the education system. To truly support these vulnerable children, there must be a concerted effort to improve the overall quality of education, provide adequate funding, and ensure that schools are equipped to meet the unique needs of children in state care.

Educational experts stress the importance of tailored support services, including mental health resources, individualized learning plans, and strong community partnerships. These measures can help bridge the gap and provide a more inclusive educational environment. Moreover, fostering collaboration between state agencies, schools, and caregivers is crucial for the effective implementation of any policy aimed at supporting children in state care.

As the debate continues, it is clear that addressing educational inequity requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond legislative measures. Ensuring that every child has access to quality education and the necessary support to succeed should be a priority for policymakers, educators, and the community at large. The future of these children depends on the actions taken today to create a more equitable education system.

See website for Sarah Game Australia.