Every Australian deserves access to a quality education and the opportunity to succeed, no matter where they live, writes the Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Education and Training.
The almost 400,000 students living in regional, rural and remote Australia have the same potential as those in the metro areas, however the achievements of these students have lagged behind urban students.
The Australian Government is committed to delivering an education system funded to meet the needs of every student and empowering them to reach their full potential.
Our Government’s expenditure on school education is $309.6 billion over the period 2018 to 2029, representing an increase of $37.6 billion to schools in our schools package.
Funding for each student will grow on average by 62.6 per cent. Funding for state schools will grow by 101 per cent, and funding for non-state schools will grow by 70 per cent over the package.
We know it costs more to educate students in regional, rural and remote areas than it does in city-based schools.
Our efforts to turn record investment into improved results, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas, is going to take a concerted effort beyond just government; it will need parents, teachers, school leaders and entire communities to get behind it.
Last year, we commissioned Emeritus Professor John Halsey of Flinders University to produce the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (IRRRRE). The Government has accepted all 11 of the report’s recommendations.
Alongside the recommendations, Professor Halsey suggested 53 actions as examples of what could be done to implement these recommendations.
Many of these specific actions intersect with work in progress, future plans and funding arrangements, and cross various levels of government.
Professor Halsey’s goal to enhance access, outcomes and opportunities in regional Australia is one all Australians should share. Helping to lift student engagement and results in rural and regional Australia benefits us all, with better employment outcomes, productivity and economic growth.
In response to the review, the Australian Government will provide $96.1 million over four years, including expanding availability of sub-bachelor and Commonwealth-supported bachelor places at regional study hubs, and increasing the Parental Income cut-off for Youth Allowance’s regional workforce independence criteria.
It is expected 75 per cent more regional students will qualify for Youth Allowance under these criteria.
The Government has also committed $16.7 million over four years to help establish and maintain up to eight community-owned, regional study hubs across Australia. These hubs will provide study space, video conferencing, computer facilities, and pastoral and academic support for students studying via distance at partner universities, improving access to higher education.
The $14 million for more places announced this year will support an additional 500 bachelor students to study there.
A further $123.6 million has been committed over five years for additional Commonwealth supported places at regional universities, specifically University of the Sunshine Coast (Moreton Bay), Southern Cross University (Coffs Harbour) and the University of Tasmania’s Northern Transformation Project.
We delivered on our 2016 election commitment through our $152 million Regional Student Access to Education Package, which included $24 million for scholarships to support 1200 regional and remote students to undertake science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health and agriculture studies.
Through the Regional Budget Statement, the Government will report each year on progress in delivering improved access, outcomes and opportunities for regional, rural and remote students.
We want to see the results of these measures to ensure that students are achieving the best outcomes.
With the evidence provided by the IRRRRE report, and additional input such as David Gonski’s ‘Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools’, we are on the path to an education system that is student focused, results driven and funded according to need.
The Australian Government is making a lasting and real difference to the opportunities provided to regional, rural and remote students, enabling them to make their unique contribution to the future of our country.