Summing Up - Rural Education - Do The Maths
Since 1971 the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association of Australia, ICPA (Aust), has represented families living in rural and remote regions of Australia. Our goal is to achieve equity of educational opportunity for all geographically isolated children and thus ensure they have access to a continuing and appropriate education determined by their aspirations and abilities rather than the location of their home. Due consideration must be given to factors which affect the delivery of and access to education by these children, factors which do not necessarily need to be considered within the context of metropolitan education.
Improving the educational outcomes for rural and remote students requires a national approach that ensures national consistency no matter where education is provided. The financial cost to families educating children in these locations continues to rise and can be attributed to many leaving these areas. There is a strong need for rural and remote education to be placed on a separate register when delivering and funding education for these students.
Looking at the education sector and through this lens, ICPA would identify the following as some of the major problems with the current arrangements.
Accessing affordable early childhood learning:
Distance Education for four year old students need to be recognised when undertaking a transition to school program and the AIC scheme extended to them as no other service is available to this group.
Funding required ≈ $1 million dollars per annum.
Disconnected Country Kids
Access to adequate, affordable internet services
We are aware that delivering services similar to metropolitan areas, to the rural and remote population, is far more expensive and time consuming to deploy. Therefore, it is essential that the nbn Long Term Satellite Service (now Sky Muster Service) capacity is sufficient for both current and future demand. Existing usage is limited by the inadequacy of the current systems and policies.
Out of Pocket Costs Skyrocketing
Increase to the AIC Boarding Allowance
Urgent financial assistance is required to overcome the unsustainable costs associated with accessing boarding school education. Attending boarding school is a necessity for many children in rural and remote areas due to the distance they are from available schooling.
4572 students received the AIC Boarding Allowance in 2015. Read more
Rural Families Ignored
The Distance Education Teaching Allowance would be the recognition of the financial impact on families who must provide a distance education tutor.
For around 1500 families living in isolated regions of Australia, the only means of accessing an education for their children is via distance education programs.
Funding required ≈ $9 million per annum
Facilitation is specifically required to ensure that Mobile Playgroups in rural and remote areas, are included in the Jobs for Families Early Childhood Package, so that funding for these services is secure beyond 2018.
The guidelines for the Nanny Pilot Programme, need to be reviewed immediately in relation to rural and remote families, so they can be assessed, charged lower rates and placed in a category consistent with their location and level of disadvantage. Read more
ICPA requests the immediate establishment of a Rural Hardship Education Fund, to assist families with the enormous out-of-pocket costs associated with educating children at boarding school in times of long-term drought and the drought recovery period.
While 4572 students received the AIC Boarding Allowance in 2015, the number impacted by drought at any one time would be considerably less. Read more
Families in rural and remote locations who need to use telehealth clinicians for children with development difficulties under the 'Chronic Diseases Management Scheme' and related item numbers, require an equivalent Medicare rebate to those who have in-person consultations.
Additional resources need to be provided to facilities, including boarding schools, where student requirements have been clearly identified on the NCCD database.
Teachers in rural and remote schools, including distance education teachers and distance education supervisors, need to be provided with training to recognise and cater for specific learning needs, including dyslexia. Read more
Tertiary Access Allowance
Despite the welcomed changes including the removal of multiple asset and means testing from Youth Allowance, ICPA continues to lobby for a Tertiary Access Allowance (TAA) equal to the relocation scholarship (1st year-$4 333, 2nd year- $2 167, 3rd and subsequent years - $1 083) for students who are unable to access the relocation scholarship or YA or any financial support.
In view of the current financial situation, support must be given to those most in need. Immediate assistance should be available for students from rural and remote areas who constitute a group currently under-represented at university. Read more