As 2017 was coming to the end of the school year Boarding Australia was regularly hearing from Indigenous boarding providers that many were facing major financial challenges as they headed into the New Year. In response, a short confidential survey was conducted of boarding providers to get an initial ‘feel’ and to identify areas of further study. The survey had 30 respondents with either a small cohort of under 25% Indigenous (43%) boarders or a large cohort of 100% Indigenous (43%) boarders.

As seen in the chart there appears to have been an overall decline in the financial health of Indigenous boarding providers over the past three years with 60% saying they are in a worse financial position.

Figure1: Responses to the Question: Is your boarding operations 2017 financial position better, the same or worse than 3 years ago?



Of the 13 large providers with 100% Indigenous boarders, 62% believed they were in poor financial health and 84% saying they were worse off financially than three years ago. Interestingly, in response to the question Do you think your boarding operation is receiving the full entitlement of ABSTUDY? 46% said no with a further 23% saying they didn’t know.

Of the 13 boarding providers with a small cohort of Indigenous boarders, less than 25% indicated they were already in poor financial health with 30% indicating they were expecting a worse financial outcome in 2018. These providers had exactly the same responses to the large providers in regard to obtaining ABSTUDY entitlements.

When all respondents were asked ‘Can our facility run financially on ABSTUDY funding alone?’ 100% said NO. With 87% saying that ABSTUDY was overly complicated it is not surprising that 57% of providers didn’t believe they had the internal systems to fully manage ABSTUDY. Census Postal Area (POA) dates and travel arrangements were also criticised.

Useful feedback was also provided in relation to possible changes to improve the funding arrangements from the Australian Government.

The survey data is still being analysed by a University researcher to create a report to inform Boarding Australia’s advocacy and strengthen our voice to the Government on behalf of the Indigenous boarding sector. Once these findings are complete this information will be shared through the Boarding Buzz and on our website.


Greg Franks

Chief Executive Officer Boarding Australia