MARCH 9, 2016
ICPA WA 44th ANNUAL STATE CONFERENCE IN PERTH ON MARCH 18
Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association WA: ‘Every Connection Counts’
PERTH: The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association WA (ICPA WA) expects more than 70 delegates and guests from all over Western Australia to attend its state conference at the Ocean Beach Hotel in Perth on March 18.
ICPA WA president Liz Sudlow said regional representatives and members will travel vast distances to attend the conference and it was a great opportunity to brainstorm ideas on regional education, as well as debate important issues.
“Attendees will hear interesting speakers, receive vital practical support to help them parent in remote areas, as well as make vital connections,” she said. “There are almost 100,000 children living in rural and remote areas of Western Australia. This does not include regional towns in the Southwest. ICPA WA continues to lobby State and Federal governments, on their behalf, as it has done for the past four decades.”
“The organization provides many levels of support including assisting with the applications for state and federal allowances, teacher training and student travel. We help parents of children aged from early childhood through to primary, secondary and on to tertiary. The ICPA believes it is important to facilitate high education access to all children in the bush, and that is in the nation’s interests as a brighter Australia will be a more prosperous one. Making connections is also vitally important to help this country innovate now and in the future.”
Mrs Sudlow said all regional children should have access to equitable education but this was still, sadly, not currently available.
She also said, in times of budget tightening, it was important that cuts were not made to regional schools and educational services. “The ICPA is continuing to lobby the Federal Government for a Distance Education Teaching Allowance and oppose proposed cuts to Schools of the Air, ” Mrs Sudlow said.
Conference presentations will include representatives from: NBN speaking on the launch of SkyMuster, Telstra Countrywide, WA Department of Education update, as well as information for Community Groups on Communication and using LinkedIn. The conference will be opened by the Hon Sue Ellery. The main event sponsor is Telstra Country Wide.
For more information go to:
President Liz Sudlow
ABOUT ICPA WA
Established in 1971, the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) is a national organization representing rural students and their families at all stages of education and has a large network of branches throughout Australia.
ICPA WA is a state organization, providing support and assistance to rural and regional families in Western Australia. It supports families to access education at all levels from early childhood to primary, secondary and tertiary. This includes small rural schools, regional primary and secondary schools, both government and non government schools, distance education/School of the Air, agricultural colleges, TAFE and apprenticeships, and universities.
ICPA WA can assist with: state and federal allowances, information and communications technology, special needs education, boarding facilities, teacher training, tertiary access, early childhood education and student travel.
ICPA WA has been instrumental in successfully achieving many benefits for WA regional families including: the Assistance for Isolated Children Allowance; State Boarding Away from Home Allowance; and funding for travel to and from boarding schools.
The national ICPA conference will also be held in Perth at the Duxton Hotel from August 10-11, 2016. It is the first time in 6 years that the event will be in WA.
ABOUT ICPA WA President Liz Sudlow
ICPA WA president Liz Sudlow lives in the Northampton area of the Mid West (Western Australia), where she is a partner (with husband Tony and family) in a mixed enterprise farm – grain, Angus cattle and sheep.
Liz is a former teacher and the mother of four children. She taught her children at their local primary school, before they attended high schools in Perth. Liz joined ICPA WA Council in 2011. She has been a committee member, state secretary and is the current state president. Liz also represents ICPA WA on the Rural and Remote Education Advisory Council (RREAC), which advises the Minister for Education and Training on the education and training needs of rural and remote Western Australians.
Liz is a fierce advocate of the importance of family. She believes a rural upbringing in a pro-active family sets up students with the potential to develop important skills such as resilience, team building, community participation and leadership. Liz is also involved in a number of other community organisations in her local community.
Every child should have access to the best possible education, regardless of where they live, the income of their family, or the school they attend. Gonski, Feb 2012.
Educational attainment continues to lag in rural areas, with remote and Indigenous
communities recording the lowest rates of school attendance and completion. While there have been increases in young people pursuing higher education across the country, students from rural areas continue to be underrepresented. Distance imposes greater cost to access services, employment and education, as lengthy travel or relocation is often required.
Disadvantage experienced by rural communities as a whole also has an impact on young people, as businesses, schools and services have limited resources and reduced capacity to respond to their needs. Ann Davie, Engaging Young People in Rural and Remote Australia, Apr 2015.
FACTS: Almost 100,000 children live in regional and remote WA
It is estimated that more than 96,629 children, aged between 0 and 19, live in the Wheatbelt and Outback areas of WA. These are figures from ABS 2013.
More about ICPA
· ICPA is a national organization that represents rural students and their families to access an appropriate education. Like our government, it operates at national, state and branch level.
· ICPA WA supports regional families throughout WA and works within the community to advocate for rural students, at all levels of education.
· ICPA WA has approximately 300 family memberships in WA and over 2,500 throughout Australia.
· There are 12 branches located throughout regional Western Australia. They include: Central Wheatbelt North, Esperance, Gascoyne, Goldfields/Eyre, Hyden, Kimberley Air, Lakes, Lones (for those not living near a branch or who live in the city), Meekatharra Air, Midwest, Pilbara and Yalgoo.
· Membership is decided by the various branches and varies from $65 to $100, depending on the location.
· ICPA WA holds an annual state conference and AGM annually in March, where members can highlight issues for discussion and council lobby.
· Members are kept abreast of issues via a quarterly national magazine, a tri-annual state periodical and monthly newsletters from both state and federal councils.
Top 2 National Issues:
· Seeking an Increase to the Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC):
The AIC was introduced in 1973 and was initially determined by the average cost of boarding less the cost of caring for children at home. Over time the cost of boarding has increased more than the rate paid under the scheme.
Currently approximately 4,500 students across Australia qualify for the basic boarding allowance of $8,015 pa. There is also an additional allowance of $1,533 for families who earn less than $54,000 pa. Approximately 11,000 students qualify for this. Many rural families across Australia are currently significantly out of pocket when they access a boarding school for their child. ICPA would like to see a significant increase to the AIC – ideally by 50% to bring it back into line with what was intended.
· Seeking the introduction of a Distance Education Tutor Allowance (DETA):
ICPA would like to see the government recognize the contribution made by remote families - in the form of an allowance, when they home tutor their children, who learn via distance education methods, by assisting with their daily tuition. Distance education requires a classroom to be established in the home. It impacts on the Home Tutor’s ability to work in other paid work or family business. Schemes such as the Nanny Pilot Program and In Home Care do not provide for in-school care or supervision.
Top 2 State Issues:
· Seeking an Increase to the WA Boarding Away From Home Allowance (BAHA):
The BAHA is paid to WA families to assist geographically isolated families with the cost of boarding/education charges for primary or secondary school age children. The allowance for 2015 is $2,105 on the proviso that you have received the AIC Allowance or Second Home Allowance for all of the year. The last increase to this allowance was by $50 in 2010. The average cost of boarding fees at government, catholic and independent schools in WA in 2016 is approximately $19,636 while the average cost of tuition at non-government secondary schools is $16,318. Typically the fees rise on average between 4 – 8% per annum.
There are 8 Government Residential Colleges located around regional Western Australia who provide accommodation for students attending government and in some cases, non-government schools. The average cost of boarding is $13,510. For some families, Perth is the most suitable option as it is the most convenient for travel arrangements. The only government residential college in Perth, located at City Beach, is for gifted and talented students.
ICPA WA would like to see an increase of at least $2,000 to the BAHA.
· Assurance that schools in rural and remote WA are not further eroded:
The Student Based Funding Model (SBFM) introduced by the government in 2015 combined with the shift to greater autonomy for schools, may work well in the city, but it is having a negative effect on rural and remote schools around Western Australia. It does cost more to educate students in remote areas of the state. Many rural and remote schools now find it difficult to attract Principals. Many schools are not able to offer a range of suitable subject choices. The decline in the health of rural schools is contributing to population decline in WA.
ICPA would like to see:
- Greater effort to attract and retain Principals and quality staff in rural and remote schools. Once employed, better support networks in place from the Department of Education for Principals and teachers.
- Acknowledgement by government, that if a school cannot offer a suitable curriculum, students be eligible to attend an alternative school and access the AIC and BAHA allowances.
- At the 5 Schools of the Air, the Locality Allowance (which is part of the SBFM) be student based and paid according to where the student resides, not the school location. In many cases this can be up to 800 km difference.
It is vital for rural and remote Western Australian communities - and especially for our country students - that opportunities to engage in quality education programs and rich social interaction, continue to be a priority of all government schools.