Local, Independant and Effective
June 02, 2017

End silo approach to regions to lift burden from country students

Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has called on the government to lift the burden from regional students’ shoulders by ending the “silo” approach to developing regional policy.

In a speech to Parliament on 30 May Ms McGowan urged the government to “join the dots” on its various regional initiatives to identify common themes to help young people in Australia’s regions access higher education.

Ms McGowan identified the need to increase the representation of regional students in the higher education sector, provide greater support for those transitioning between secondary and tertiary education, and recognising the workforce and economic development requirements of regions.

“I was inspired and moved by the 75 young people who came to my budget feedback sessions and the 65 others who wrote to me,” Ms McGowan said.

“They work hard to finish their education, despite the challenges they face. But the systemic drag puts them behind their metropolitan counterparts and stops them stretching to their full potential. As their independent representative I am bringing their voice to Parliament.”

Ms McGowan challenged the government to bring together policies on education, employment, social welfare, and communications to address the disparity where people aged 15 – 24 years from rural and regional Australia are almost half as likely to be attending university as those from metropolitan areas.

In outlining the pressures on young people, Ms McGowan said higher education for regional communities was not a single issue and that a multi-pronged approach was the only way to find a solution.

“The government has an opportunity to identify and address common themes through the independent review into regional, rural and remote education, the $15.2million committed in the budget to create six new community owned study hubs, the $220 million to the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages and the Regional Ministerial Taskforce designed to improve the lives of rural, regional and remote Australians across portfolios,” Ms McGowan said.

The biggest threat to the sustainability of rural communities is a declining population of young people, Ms McGowan said.

“Young people in my electorate work hard to build their future. They take up the challenge of moving away from home to study. Many hope to return to Indi once their studies are completed and bring back the experiences and skills that will enhance growth and vibrancy in our rural and regional communities.”

Ms McGowan’s speech can be viewed here

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