Some of Australia’s most isolated regional dwellers were out in force in the national capital this week when the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) hosted its 47th annual federal conference in Canberra, drawing attendees from across the continent.
Championing the needs of isolated educators and their students of all ages, the appropriately themed “Country kids in CAPITALS” conference was markint its first time back in the national capital for 15 years ago.
It included a special dinner at the Australian War Memorial, where former federal Education Science and Training Minister, and friend of the ICPA, Dr Brendan Nelson, was special guest (and host) in his current capacity as director of the war memorial.
Dr Nelson was warmly applauded for an address highlighting how the war memorial represented, not war, but the love and friendship of Australians, their love of the country and the harmony of its community, the nation’s democracy and education priorities, and a deep gratitude to the 2 million who fought to defend those national qualities.
He also paid tribute to the struggles and economic contribution rural Australians have made and the efforts farming communities – often in the most remote of circumstances – still make “in playing an enormous role in defining what our nation is all about today”.
More than 120 members and guests debated about 80 conference motions pitched at ensuring equitable access to better education for children living in rural and remote areas.
Former regional MP, Fiona Nash, opened the two day event where issues such as reliable internet and telephone services, changes to parent support funding arrangements and regional travel costs were all hot issues on the agenda.