Members of the 2018-19 ICPA Federal Council are (back left to right): Nikki Macqueen (Qld), Di Skene (Qld), Christie Goddard (Qld), Jane Morton (Qld), Kristen Coggan (Qld), Sally Sullivan (NT), Wendy Hick (Qld), Caroline Robinson (NSW), Lisa Slade (NT), Kate Thompson (TAS) and (sitting left to right) Suzanne Wilson (NT) and Alana Moller (Qld). Absent: Judy Sinclair-Newton (NSW) and Jane O’Brien (NSW).
ONE hundred and fifty delegates and guests from every Australian State joined Federal and State Ministers and departmental representatives at the 47th Annual Federal Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) Conference in Canberra last week.
The two-day conference saw 89 motions debated and discussed.
Key developments included:
- With education measures left out of all recent government drought announcements, motions were brought forward insisting ICPA (Aust) continue to emphasise to the Federal Government the extreme importance of providing assistance to keep children in school while families are struggling through desperate times.
- Key telecommunications topics included the need for the Universal Service Obligation to remain on standard telephone landline services for all rural and remote families; all rural and remote students having consistent access to continuous, reliable and well-maintained telephone communications; prioritisation of repairs for rural and remote telephone communications; provision of temporary satellite phones when a rural and remote phone fault is not rectified within three working days; and for nbn to extend the current Sky Muster Education Service to ensure all rural and remote students (distance education, tertiary, boarding school students and small rural school students) using Sky Muster have access to this service.
- Tertiary education motions discussed surrounded eligibility criteria for the Independent and Dependent Youth Allowance and inhibiting wait times involved in contacting the call centre for Youth Allowance applications.
- Drawing attention to the difficulty in employing a skilled education workforce in rural and remote Australia, one motion called on the Federal Government to relax the legislative requirement to have a qualified Early Childhood Teacher, or Certificate III ECEC qualified person, run a kindergarten program in rural and remote child care centres, when these positions cannot be filled. Following the introduced changes to the In Home Care Program on 2 July 2018, members are concerned that places in regional and remote areas will remain vacant.
Long-standing topics of concern that continue to be raised included the establishment of a Distance Education Teaching Allowance (DETA) in recognition of the role Home Tutors undertake when educating students via distance education, and calls for an immediate increase to the Federal allowance – Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Basic Boarding Allowance, to help alleviate financial pressures from increased fees by boarding schools and hostels.