The Opposition has congratulated the Isolated Children’s Parent’s Association on their 51st Federal Conference held in Perth this week, which was the first face-to-face conference since 2019.
Shadow Education and Training Minister Peter Rundle said as a regional MP who covers a large part of southern WA, it was fantastic for WA to host the event which this year had the theme of “Outback to Ocean – Growing Member Connections”.
“So much focus regarding education outcomes for our children is city-centric which is why this event which throws the spotlight on children living in rural, regional and remote areas is so necessary,” Mr Rundle said.
“I congratulate State President Sally Brindal and the West Australian team for their leadership and coordination in bringing this major forum together, which saw delegates from every State and Territory attend.”
A key theme at the Conference was around assistance payments to acknowledge that for many isolated children and families, home-schooling or separating families for boarding was not a choice but a necessity.
Mr Rundle said the associated education costs can be astronomical for families, often already dealing with a high cost-of-living.
“Concerns have been raised with me regarding the Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA) provided to students who had to move away from their communities for study,” Mr Rundle said.
“Regional families often have limited choices for schooling, making do with minimal assistance, but there are steps the McGowan Government could take to ease that burden.
“The Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery cut BAHA when Labor came to Government in 2017, putting more pressure on regional families who want quality education for their children.
“The WA Branch of ICPA once again moved successful motions at the Federal Conference in relation to the reinstatement of BAHA which was an excellent element of Royalties for Regions.
“Considering the McGowan Labor Government’s $5.7 billion surplus, we call on the Minister to make good on her promise to look into reinstating BAHA payments.”
Mr Rundle said the Federal Conference allowed for proactive and collaborative discussions about how to better provide equitable educational outcomes for rural and remote students.
“Every child deserves access to quality education and living in an isolated area should not be a barrier to achieving high grades and career pathways,” Mr Rundle said.
“Having access to appropriate, affordable internet and telecommunications access, and better tertiary education opportunities were also raised at the Conference, along with reinstating cuts to BAHA – all are issues I am passionate about advocating for.
“More can and should be done to give our regional children and adolescents higher quality education, and the ICPA Conference provides strong direction in this space.”