Affordability and accessibility will be the main issues pushed by the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association when it takes part in the review of regional education announced today by the federal government.
Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader, Barnaby Joyce said the aim of the review was to get more regional, rural and remote students to “not just be successful at school but to go on to further study, training and employment.”
He said the review would be critical in addressing the key barriers and challenges that impact on the educational outcomes of regional, rural and remote students.
“The coalition government’s independent comprehensive review into equity of education access for rural and regional students will seek fresh ideas and fresh thinking to bridge the divide,” Minister Joyce said.
“There’s a clear disparity between education in the bush and the city – this seeks to address the gap of achievement, aspiration and access to higher education faced by regional students.
“That’s why we are going out to the edges, to hear from our regional communities in order to find solutions to build the skills of regional Australians to allow our youth better jobs and better opportunities no matter where they live.”
Federal ICPA president Wendy Hick said her group was excited to see the coalition promise made in the lead-up to last year’s federal election, at the Rural Press Club on June 22, become a reality.
“We are looking forward to working with the government as a stakeholder,” she said.
They will be putting forward ways of tackling the affordability and accessibility of education in rural and regional Australia, to “ensure our people get the education they need”.
Ms Hick said ICPA was confident the review was genuine in its purpose, given that the changes to youth allowance, whereby family farms are no longer included as an asset when applying means testing, came off the back of the same promise.
“We saw a result there, as well as the 50 per cent increase to the AIC additional boarding allowance, and the reduction in time that income earners have to wait before they can claim independent youth allowance, from 18 months to 14 months,” she said.
“Last year’s school leavers are taking advantage of this now, so we are seeing results.”
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the independent review into regional, rural and remote education would be led by Emeritus Professor John Halsey of Flinders University.
Mr Birmingham said regional education needed to be looked at as a “complete puzzle” and not as separate school, higher education and training sectors.
“This review will look at education from school entry to job success and how we can improve results for rural and regional people,” he said.
“Approximately one third of regional and remote students do not complete Year 12 or an equivalent unit of study and that number rises to almost two thirds of very remote students.
“We must drive and better set policy to encourage ambition among our country students. Regional and remote students made up just 18.8 per cent of domestic undergraduate students at universities, compared to making up 26.4 per cent of the population in 2016.
“Professor Halsey understands the unique challenges faced by regional, rural and remote students and his review will come up with solutions to better support students in school and into pathways beyond school.”
The government is calling on interested parties, including representatives from the education community, families, employer groups and the philanthropic sector to make a submission or take part in the face-to-face consultations.
“We want to hear your stories and feedback about regional, rural and remote education – what’s working, what’s not and your ideas on how to improve it,” Mr Birmingham said.
A discussion paper and online platform for public submissions will be available from April 2017.
Professor Halsey will present his final report and recommendations to the Government by the end of 2017.
For more information on how to be involved visit: https://www.education.gov.au/independent-review-regional-rural-and-remote-education