Revitalising regional education

 The federal government will conduct a comprehensive review of regional education with the aim of getting more regional, rural and remote students to not just be successful at school but to go on to further study, training and employment.

Deputy prime minister and leader of the Nationals Barnaby Joyce said the review would be critical in addressing the key barriers and challenges that impact on the educational outcomes of regional, rural and remote students.

Education minister Simon Birmingham and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce announce review into regional education.

“The Coalition government’s independent comprehensive review into equity of education access for rural and regional students will seek fresh ideas and fresh thinking to bridge the divide,” Minister Joyce said.

“There’s a clear disparity between education in the bush and the city – this seeks to address the gap of achievement, aspiration and access to higher education faced by regional students.

“That’s why we are going out to the edges, to hear from our regional communities in order to find solutions to build the skills of regional Australians to allow our youth better jobs and better opportunities no matter where they live.”

Minister for education and training Simon Birmingham said the independent review into regional, rural and remote education would be led by Emeritus Professor John Halsey of Flinders University.

Minister Birmingham said regional education needed to be looked at as a “complete puzzle” and not as separate school, higher education and training sectors.

“This review will look at education from school entry to job success and how we can improve results for rural and regional people,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Approximately one third of regional and remote students do not complete year 12 or an equivalent unit of study and that number rises to almost two thirds of very remote students. 

“We must drive and better set policy to encourage ambition among our country students. Regional and remote students made up just 18.8 percent of domestic undergraduate students at universities, compared to making up 26.4 percent of the population in 2016. 

“Professor Halsey understands the unique challenges faced by regional, rural and remote students and his review will come up with solutions to better support students in school and into pathways beyond school.” 

 Minister Birmingham said Professor Halsey commenced his career as a teacher and was a principal of two schools in South Australia and his experience spans across numerous positions outside of the classroom on advisory boards and in educational leadership roles.

“His extensive knowledge and experience in rural and remote education and passion for the sustainability of rural schools and communities make him ideally suited to lead this review.”

The review will be conducted in consultation with key stakeholders and will benefit country people and country communities.

“We want to hear your stories and feedback about regional, rural and remote education – what’s working, what’s not and your ideas on how to improve it,” Minister Birmingham said. 

“I call on all interested parties including representatives from the education community, families, employer groups and the philanthropic sector to make a submission or take part in the face-to-face consultations.” 

A discussion paper and online platform for public submissions will be available from April 2017.

Professor Halsey will present his final report and recommendations to the government by the end of 2017.

 For more information on how to be involved please visit: 



Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry is a freelance education writer and the former editor of School News, Australia.

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