The unequivocal purpose of education for Cape York’s young people is to provide them with the opportunities for a fully bi-cultural education, to enable them to move between their home worlds and the wider Australian and global worlds and enjoy the best of both.


We pursue five overarching strategies to achieve these aims:


Parents can now see a future where their children are able to enjoy the fruits of participating in the Australian mainstream whilst keeping their culture, heritage and their traditional languages

  • Engage parents and families in education, so the importance of education is understood
  • Erect building blocks around literacy and numeracy in early childhood, so children’s reading and language skills start to develop from a young age
  • Close the primary school achievement gap. Cape York primary schools need to produce Year 7 graduates equal to mainstream school standard
  • Support young people to successfully pursue secondary education options outside of communities.
  • Promote orbits to give people careers and employment

We’ve been able to implement innovative education reforms through Cape York Welfare Reform including through the establishment of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy in Hope Vale, Coen and Aurukun and also through Djarragun College, south of Cairns.

Education under Cape York Welfare Reform

Lifting expectations and standards of educational attendance and achievement is central to welfare reform and building Indigenous engagement in the real economy. Cape York Welfare Reform is the leading designer and champion of a model that has successfully linked the social responsibility of school attendance to income management and welfare payments through the Family Responsibilities Commission.

Other innovations, such as Student Case Management and the Student Education Trust, whereby parents and other family members can set aside funds to support a child’s education, have also helped improve school attendance and readiness.

The independent evaluation of the Cape York Welfare Reform trial, published in 2013,  found the greatest improvement in school attendance was in Aurukun; where attendance rates had been lowest before the trial. While we’ve had some success, more work remains to be done; particularly outside primary school, in early childhood education, and achieving better results for older, high-school aged young people where they’ve suffered from systemic failures.

Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy delivers an innovative ‘4Cs’ program over an extended school day

Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy delivers an innovative ‘4Cs’ program over an extended school day

Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy

We are confidently heading down a new path in Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy primary schools. As part of the Cape York Welfare Reform trial, the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA) was established in January 2010 to operate three primary schools in Aurukun, Coen and Hope Vale; in a unique partnership with Education Queensland.

CYAAA is part of the Good to Great Schools Australia Network, an innovative education model spearheaded by Cape York Partnership Chairman Noel Pearson.

Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy delivers an innovative ‘4Cs’ program over an extended school day. The complete education provided through the 4Cs program involves the use of Direct Instruction, particularly in the Class component, to teach mainstream English literacy and numeracy.

The 4Cs are:Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy

  1. Class: teaches mainstream curriculum in English literacy and numeracy using Direct Instruction (DI)  methods
  2. Club: provides artistic, musical and sport programsGood to Great Schools Australia
  3. Culture: provides comprehensive Indigenous culture and language programs delivered by teachers and local cultural tutors, it also involves on country camps and activities
  4. Community: provides case management of each student’s attendance, school readiness, health, nutrition, well-being and parent engagement, working closely with the Family Responsibilities Commission