Better outcomes, more opportunities for regional, rural and remote students

THE Coalition Government has accepted all 11 recommendations of the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (IRRRRE), committing to a whole of government approach in response.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the Review led by Emeritus Professor John Halsey considered the key issues, challenges and barriers that have an impact on the educational outcomes of students living in regional, rural and remote communities.

“We believe in Australia your post code should not determine your potential. No matter where you go to school, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue their passions and get a quality education,” Deputy Prime Minister McCormack said.

“By accepting all of Professor Halsey’s recommendations, the Government is putting the education needs of the almost 400,000 students from regional, rural and remote communities front and centre.

“The Liberal and National Parties are the only ones which can be trusted to deliver for regional Australia. This landmark review will inform decisions on education policy for years to come.”

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Halsey Review had an important place in the push to drive excellence across Australia’s education system.

“Professor Halsey’s review highlighted the number of people with a degree decreases as you get further from our capital cities,” Minister Birmingham said.

“There’s clearly a gap between the city and the bush in the level of study or qualifications students achieve. That’s why we’re creating an extra 500 sub-bachelor places at regionally based higher education institutions, and an additional 500 Commonwealth supported bachelor places for students at the Regional Study Hubs we’re establishing and maintaining.

“I’ve also asked Australia’s higher education leaders to increase the transparency of the student accommodation options they offer and to guarantee places for regional, rural and remote students.

“The findings from Professor Halsey’s report have been considered as part of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools and they’ll inform our negotiations with states and territories on a new school funding and reform agreement starting in 2019.

“One of the most important commitments we’ve made is to ensure the findings of the Halsey Review are fed into conversations with states and territories, who have a central role in delivering policy and programs across schools in regional, rural and remote Australia.”

Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan said the Turnbull Government was also making much needed changes to Youth Allowance.

“Professor Halsey’s findings highlight the hurdles regional, rural and remote students can face,” Minister Tehan said.

“We’re lifting the parental income cut-off for the ‘workforce participation’ independence criterion for regional students from $150,000 to $160,000, and by a further $10,000 for each additional child in the family.

“This will mean for a two child family the cut-off will be $170,000 so that students with both parents earning around $80,000 each from their jobs won’t miss out.”

Deputy Leader of the Nationals Bridget McKenzie said the Coalition Government is committed to ensuring existing programs will continue to meet the needs of students in in the regions.

“As a former teacher I understand the challenges many families face when accessing high quality and reliable education in the regions,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Education needs in rural Australia are different from those in the cities, so the Coalition has prioritised the rollout of the National Broadband Network and Sky Muster services into regional Australia to address challenges those students face.

“We want to ensure every student can take advantage of remote learning opportunities that will suit their needs and NBN Co’s trial of multicast services in schools across the Northern Territory highlights our focus on enhancing online learning for live in remote areas.

“State and territory governments are key in supporting students and school communities in regional, rural and remote Australia.”

Minister for Regional Development John McVeigh said addressing issues which are shared by rural, regional and remote schools and those in metropolitan areas is as important as fixing uniquely rural challenges.

“Professor Halsey’s report represents a significant amount of work, involving more than 20 consultations and community meetings around the country and some 340 submissions from the public, government, education experts and industry groups, as well as charities and private sector organisations,” Dr McVeigh said.

“Now, our whole Government will work with the Education Council and the Industry and Skills Council to build a strong evidence base for what works in supporting regional, rural and remote education and training.

“The Government will report annually through the Regional Ministerial Budget Statement on progress in delivering improved access, outcomes and opportunities for regional, rural and remote students in education, training and employment.

“Governments at all levels must work together to respond effectively to this Review and make a real and lasting difference to the education outcomes and opportunities for regional, rural and remote students.”

The full report and official government response are available at www.education.gov.au/independent-review-regional-rural-and-remote-education

Shane Manning