The indicators of, and impact of, regional inequality in Australia

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The indicators of, and impact of, regional inequality in Australia
The indicators of, and impact of,
regional inequality in Australia
Submission from the Department of Education and Training
to the Senate Economics References Committee – The
indicators of, and impact of, regional inequality in Australia

             Opportunity through learning
 Education and training .......................................................................................................................3
    The Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education ..........................................3
    Early childhood education and child care.......................................................................................4
    School education ............................................................................................................................5
    Tertiary education ..........................................................................................................................9
Department of Education and Training

The indicators of, and impact of,
regional inequality in Australia
The Department of Education and Training (the department) welcomes the opportunity to make a
submission to the Senate Economics References Committee – The indicators of, and impact of,
regional inequality in Australia.

The department supports Australians living in regional and rural communities through the ongoing
delivery of multiple programs and through new policies and initiatives announced as a part of the
Australian Government’s 2018-19 Budget. In preparing this submission, the department considered
the national policies and programs for which it is responsible and which help all Australians access
quality and affordable early child care and childhood education, school education, higher education,
vocational education and training and international education.

Education and training

The Australian Government (the Government) is strongly committed to building a world-class
education system that will equip all Australians with the necessary skills to allow them to succeed in
an increasingly competitive world. Disparities in achievement between metropolitan students and
those living in rural, regional and remote Australia are being addressed, in partnership with the
states and territories, to ensure that students, regardless of where they live, have access to high
quality education and training and experience the same opportunities as other students.

    Education equips young people with the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to
    become autonomous, responsible and productive citizens. High quality education and further
    study is essential to ensure that young people can fully participate in a dynamic and
    increasingly complex world. In other words, education is critical for developing and nurturing
    human agency (Halsey, 2017, p. 5).

The Government is committed to ensuring the educational outcomes of those in regional, rural and
remote Australia match those in urban areas.

The Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education
In 2017, the Government commissioned an Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote
Education (the Review) to investigate the key issues, challenges and barriers that impacted on
regional, rural and remote student outcomes. The Review was undertaken by Emeritus Professor
John Halsey and culminated in a final report released on 13 April 2018.

The Review was informed by the view that vibrant and productive rural communities are integral to
Australia’s sustainability and prosperity—socially, economically and environmentally, and the
importance of interactions between in-school and community and home factors, and focussed on
ideas and options rather than the problems.

The final report is available on the Department of Education and Training website at

Department of Education and Training

The final report included recommendations and actions that cover a wide range of issues such as
information and communications technology (ICT), income support and other student financial
assistance, health and the impact on school readiness, school and business links and the importance
of education to improving the economic sustainability of regional areas.

In response to the Review, the Government will provide $28.2 million over four years from 2018-19
to expand the availability of sub-bachelor (including enabling) places to allow greater access to
higher education for rural and regional students. It is estimated that approximately 500 additional
commencing sub-bachelor (including enabling) Commonwealth supported places annually from 2019
will be provided to institutions that operate in regional areas.

The Government is also providing $14.0 million over four years from 2018-19 to fully support an
additional 185 commencing Commonwealth supported bachelor places from 2019 (rising to 500 in
2022) for students studying in regional study hubs.

The Government will also report annually through the Regional Ministerial Budget Statement on
progress in delivering improved access, outcomes and opportunities for regional, rural and remote
Australians in education, employment and training.

The Commonwealth will continue to build on current initiatives across the Commonwealth and in
partnership with state and territory governments for the areas in which they have Constitutional

Early childhood education and child care

Early childhood is a critical period of intense learning, providing the foundation for later academic
and social success, and children within non-metropolitan areas, should be given every opportunity to

The Australian Government’s child care reforms are investing an additional $2.5 billion to provide
more support for families. The centerpiece of the new package is the new Child Care Subsidy, which
will commence from 2 July 2018. The subsidy will be simpler than the current multiple payment
system and will be paid directly to service providers. The new arrangements are designed to ensure
that more financial support is targeted to the families who need it most to access child care.

A key component of the package is the $1.2 billion Child Care Safety Net, which aims to give the
most vulnerable children a strong start, while supporting parents into work. The Child Care Safety
Net has been progressively rolled out since July 2016.

The Additional Child Care Subsidy is a top up payment to the new Child Care Subsidy, which will
provide targeted higher levels of fee assistance to families and children in certain circumstances.
The Additional Child Care Subsidy has four elements:
       Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) will assist families who require practical help
        with the cost of child care to support their child's safety and wellbeing.
       Additional Child Care Subsidy (grandparents) will assist grandparents on income support
        who are the principal carers of their grandchildren with the cost of child care.

Department of Education and Training

       Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship) will provide short-term
        increased child care fee assistance to families experiencing significant financial stress due to
        exceptional circumstances, to help with the continuity of care.
       Additional Child Care Subsidy (transition to work) will provide help to families with the cost
        of child care while they are transitioning to work from income support payments by
        engaging in work, study or training activities.

The Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) provides grant opportunities for child care services to reduce
the barriers in accessing child care, in particular in disadvantaged, regional and remote communities.
It also provides sustainability support for child care services experiencing viability issues and/or
capital support to increase the supply of child care places in areas of high unmet demand.

$61.8 million of the CCCF will provide a third funding stream for Budget Based Funded (BBF) services
to ensure their viability in the package, including to support the costs of expanding to increase
Indigenous children's participation in early education and care.

The CCCF also includes Connected Beginnings, which provides funding for the integration of child
care, maternal and child health, and family support services in a number of Indigenous communities
experiencing disadvantage. Over time, it is anticipated the program will contribute to reducing the
difference in school readiness and education outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous

The $550 million Inclusion Support Programme commenced on 1 July 2016. This program assists
early childhood and care services to build their capacity and capability to include children with
additional needs in mainstream services; providing them with an opportunity to learn and develop
alongside their typically developing peers.

From 2 July 2018, the Package will also include a revised In Home Care (IHC) child care service type,
which will replace the current In Home Care and the Nanny Pilot Program. IHC will provide access to
quality early childhood education and care to around 3000 families most in need of this care type,
including families living in rural and remote areas.

IHC will better support families’ workforce participation and early childhood education and care
requirements by providing flexible early childhood education and care for Child Care Subsidy eligible
families who can demonstrate that the other types of approved child care are not suitable or
available and where:
       families are geographically isolated from other types of approved child care, particularly in
        rural or remote locations
       parents or carers are working non-standard or variable hours
       the family is experiencing challenging or complex situations and their needs cannot be met
        by other approved child care services.

Department of Education and Training

School education

Improved school education for students in non-metropolitan areas, social inclusion in the classroom,
and successful transition from school to further education, training and employment will enable
individuals to have a happier and more productive adult life.

The Australian Government has announced its Quality Schools reform package. Under this package,
the Government is implementing a new truly needs-based funding model for schools that delivers a
consistent Commonwealth approach for schools in all states and territories, adjusted on the basis of

Under these arrangements, the Government will grow its record level of recurrent funding for
schools from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $29.5 billion in 2027, bringing total investment to $243.5 billion
from 2018 to 2027. Of this, an estimated $56.9 billion will benefit students in regional and remote
schools. Commonwealth funding for students in regional and remote Australia will grow from $3.9
billion in 2017 to $6.8 billion in 2027—an increase of 75 per cent. On average over that period, per
student funding for students in regional areas will grow by 4.9 per cent per year.

The new funding arrangements retain the Schooling Resource Standard, which comprises a base
funding amount for all students and loadings to address disadvantage.

One of the loadings addresses school location, which recognises the additional costs of delivering
education outside metropolitan areas. It is estimated the location loading will account for 2.3 per
cent of Australian Government recurrent school funding expenditure in 2018. Funding for the
location loading will grow, on average, by 5.8 per cent per year over the next decade.

Further, a school size loading, may benefit some regional schools, providing extra funding for
medium, small and very small schools in recognition that they cannot achieve the same efficiencies
of scale as a large school. It is estimated the size loading will account for 1.6 per cent of Australian
Government recurrent school funding expenditure in 2018. Funding for the size loading will grow, on
average, by 3.8 per cent per year over the next decade.

The Quality Schools package also provides additional support for government schools in the
Northern Territory and support for literacy initiatives in Tasmania.

The Australian Government commissioned the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in
Australian Schools, chaired by Mr David Gonski AC, to provide advice on how increasing Australian
Government funding should be used in Australian schools to improve education outcomes.
The Government supports the recommendations in the report in principle, released on
30 April 2018. The report, which also considered the recommendations from the Independent
Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education is informing the development of a new national
school reform agreement with states and territories.

As outlined below, there are a number of current and new initiatives to improve access to education
and training programs for Australians living in regional and rural communities.

Learning for life
The Government is providing $48.0 million over four years, from 2016–17 to 2019–20, to expand The
Smith Family’s Learning for Life program which will support an additional 24,000 disadvantaged

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students. The Learning for Life program provides financial, practical and emotional support to
disadvantaged students to encourage them to stay at school, complete Year 12 (or its equivalent)
and successfully transition from school to work or to further education and training.

The Smith Family works in over 90 communities across each State and Territory, and around half of
these communities are in regional and rural areas. In supporting children, young people and families,
The Smith Family considers the diversity of communities which fall under the umbrella of regional
and rural, with differences in location, population size and composition, history and economic base,
among other factors, being important influences on the opportunities and challenges these
communities face.

The Smith Family uses the strengths of regional and rural communities to offer a range of initiatives
and opportunities that target different stages of the education journey. These initiatives focus on
enhancing the development of core skills to ensure students complete school and move onto post-
school education and training.

The Smith Family has indicated that it will be providing a submission to the inquiry into the
indicators of, and impact of, regional inequality in Australia. Further information on learning
programs is available from The Smith Family.

Pathways in Technology Pilot
Providing $5.1 million from 2016 to 2021 to pilot the Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) model as part
of its strategy to improve Australia’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
capability. The pilot involves establishing partnerships between the education and industry sectors
to support young people to make a successful transition from school to further education, training
and work.

Current P-TECH sites classified as regional include Ballarat, Victoria; Townsville, Queensland; Burnie,
Tasmania; and Darwin, Northern Territory.

The Government has committed $440.1 million to extend the National Partnership on Universal
Access to Early Childhood Education for a further year, providing Commonwealth support for
preschool until the end of 2019. Preschool prepares children for school and is particularly beneficial
for disadvantaged children. This measure will benefit approximately 348,000 children each year in
the year before school, including approximately 100,000 in regional communities. The extension will
provide governments with time to work collaboratively on preschool arrangements from 2020.

High Achieving Teachers Program
Through the High Achieving Teachers Program, the department is taking steps to support alternative
pathways into the teaching profession and support areas of workforce shortage. From 2018-19
alternative employment-based pathways will be provided into teaching to increase the number and
distribution of high achieving teachers in Australia. This builds on the Teach for Australia program.

Teach for Australia
Supporting 10 cohorts of the Teach for Australia program, means providing more than $77.0 million
in funding through past and present contracts spanning 2008-09 to 2020-21. The program has placed
676 teaching Associates in more than 155 rural, remote and metropolitan schools in Victoria,
Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, filling hard-

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to-staff teaching positions, including in STEM subjects. Over 40 per cent of Associates have been
placed in regional, rural and remote communities, while the remainder are in disadvantaged
metropolitan schools.

The Teach for Australia program fast-tracks high caliber, non-teaching graduates (known as
Associates) into disadvantaged secondary schools through two years of intensive teacher training
that leads to a Master of Teaching.

Early Learning Languages Australia
The Government has committed $11.8 million over three years from 2018-19 to extend the highly
successful Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program in up to 5,000 preschool services, and
trial ELLA in Foundation to Year 2 in up to 300 schools. Regional and remote Australia will benefit
directly as the apps are designed so that preschool educators do not need the knowledge of the
language being taught. This is particularly beneficial for use in regional and remote communities
where access to qualified language teachers can be limited.

The ELLA program is an innovative, digital play-based language learning initiative aimed at making
language learning engaging and interesting to pre-schoolers. ELLA includes a series of interactive
applications (apps), which are available on tablet devices that provides the opportunity to learn a
language other than English, including Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Indonesian, French, Italian,
Spanish, and Arabic. Modern Greek and Hindi were introduced in 2018.

The Government has invested $15.7 million in the program from 2014 to 2018. In 2018,
approximately 2500 services are participating in the program, which represents a reach of over
80,000 children.

English Language Learning for Indigenous Children
Under the English Language Learning for Indigenous Children (ELLIC) initiative, $5.9 million is being
provided from 2017-18 to 2020-21 to trial English learning applications (apps), to improve literacy
outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children for whom English is a second language.
The trial will take place over 2019 and 2020 in at least 20 preschools and is based on the successful
Early Learning Languages Australia program.

The trial will further support the Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap in literacy
achievement between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children.
Children will access the apps on tablet devices in preschool, supported by educators trained on how
to integrate ELLIC into the preschool’s learning program. The selection of preschools for this
program will focus on regional and remote areas, which will be identified through consultation with
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

National School Chaplaincy Program
In renewing the National School Chaplaincy Program, the Government aims to support the wellbeing
of students and school communities through the provision of pastoral care services and other
support services. While the program does not specifically target rural and regional communities,
schools selected to participate in the program are eligible to receive up to $20,000 per annum or up
to $24,000 for remote and very remote schools, to engage the services of a qualified school

Department of Education and Training

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education
The Government has allocated over $64 million in funding for initiatives to improve the teaching and
learning of STEM in early learning and schools, under the Inspiring all Australians in Digital Literacy
and STEM measure of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. The initiatives target groups that
are under-represented in STEM, including students living in regional and remote areas, and are
aimed at ensuring the next generations of Australian students have the skills to equip them for the
21st century workforce. Information on these initiatives is available at:

Tertiary education

Australia’s tertiary sector, incorporating higher education and vocational education and training, is
integral in supporting Australia’s economic sustainability and competitiveness by contributing to the
development of highly skilled and relevant Australian workforce.

Skilling Australians Fund
The Skilling Australians Fund is an important part of the Government’s commitment to growing the
number of apprenticeships and traineeships. The focus on apprentices and trainees recognised that
they are a national training priority area and that they are the flagship of the Australian vocational
education and training (VET) sector.

The Fund will be managed through a new project based National Partnership Agreement, requiring
state and territory governments to commit matched funding and develop projects focused on
support for apprenticeships and traineeships across a range of agreed priority areas, including rural
and regional areas.

Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program
The Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program provides a range of financial incentives and
personal benefits, such as Living Away from Home Allowance, to encourage the continued training
and development of a highly skilled and relevant Australian workforce that supports economic
sustainability and competitiveness. Under the program, employers of Australian Apprentices in
regional areas may also be eligible for an additional Rural and Regional Skills Shortage incentive on
top of other benefits. This incentive provides $1,000 at commencement to employers of Australian
Apprentices who are undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship at a rural and regional workplace and
training at the Certificate III or IV level towards an occupation on the National Skills Needs List.
Australian Apprentices and their employers working in a regional area may also be eligible for a
range of other employer incentives and personal benefits, including the Living Away from Home
Allowance (paid to the Australian Apprentice over three years).

While there has been an overall decline in Australian Apprenticeships since 2012, the representation
of Australian Apprentices in rural and regional areas has since increased from 34% to 37% of the
total. In September 2017 there were more than 90,000 Australian Apprentices employed in a rural or
regional location.

Tertiary loans and scholarships
Loans to students to undertake tertiary education assists students to study at vocational education
and training institutions and also universities. The Government’s Higher Education Loan Program
(HELP) provides loans to students including many from regional and rural areas, to help them with

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the cost of their university tuition. Eligible students do not pay any of their tuition fees up-front and
are not required to start repaying the loan until they earn over the minimum compulsory repayment
threshold. In addition, in the six months to 31 December 2017, the Government supported
approximately 35,000 students, including 1,900 rural and regional students, to study higher level
vocational qualifications aligned to workplace and economic need through the new VET Student
Loans (VSL) program. In 2017, 22 VSL providers taught courses at campuses in regional and remote
areas of Australia.

Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships
The Government is also providing $24 million over 2017-18 and 2020-21 under the Rural and
Regional Enterprise Scholarships Program (RRESP), which was announced in the 2017-18 Budget as
part of a $152 million package to improve access to educational opportunities for regional students.
The RRESP will support at least 1200 undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational education and
training (VET) students to undertake STEM qualifications. The scholarships are for courses from
Certificate IV to PhD. These scholarships are in addition to income support provided to eligible
students through the social services portfolio.

Round one opened in late 2017 and is supporting 502 students who commenced studies in 2018 in
courses including science, health, engineering, medicine and information technology. The second
application round will be open later in 2018 for students commencing studies in 2019.

Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program
By providing funding to universities under the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships
Program (HEPPP), the Government supports activities and implement strategies that improve access
to undergraduate courses for people from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds and
improve their retention and completion rates. As regional and remote students are an identified
equity group, universities can use HEPPP funding to support them as long as they are also low SES.
For example, HEPPP supported the University of Western Australia to deliver ASPIRE UWA, an
educational outreach program working with 52 schools in WA, including 41 regional and rural
schools, to inspire students from low socio-economic, Indigenous and regional backgrounds to
access the lifelong benefits of higher education. Since 2009 it has engaged more than 40,000
students, teachers, and families in its activities.

Commonwealth supported places
In addition to the initiatives announced as a result of the Independent Review into Regional, Rural
and Remote Education, the following current and new initiatives have a strong regional focus where
the Government is providing an additional $123.6 million from 2017-18 to 2021-22 for additional
Commonwealth supported places. The funding will support the universities' expansion into regional
areas, including:
      University of the Sunshine Coast will receive funding for an additional 1,200 ongoing
         bachelor places in 2020, growing to 3,600 ongoing places in 2022. These places will be
         utilised at a new campus in Moreton Bay.
      University of Tasmania will receive funding for an additional 500 sub-bachelor places in
         2018 and 1,000 ongoing places from 2019. These places will be utilised to support the
         Northern Tasmanian Transformation Project.
      Southern Cross University will receive funding for an additional 105 ongoing places in 2019
         and 210 ongoing places in 2020. These places, which are expected to grow to 315 ongoing
         places by 2021, will be utilised in allied health courses at a new campus in Coffs Harbour.

Department of Education and Training

Regional Study Hubs
In addition, the Government is providing $16.7 million from 2018-19 to 2021-22 to assist in the
establishment and maintenance of up to eight community-owned regional study hubs across
regional Australia. Such hubs typically support regional students to study courses locally delivered by
distance from any Australian university by providing greater access to study support and

National Research Infrastructure Roadmap
Announced in the 2018-19 Budget, an additional $1.9 billion is being invested over 12 years from
2017-18 to implement the Research Infrastructure Investment Plan (the Plan). This is in addition to
around $300 million in funding for national research infrastructure already announced in response
to the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap (the Roadmap). The Roadmap will continue
address priority NRI projects through the Research Infrastructure Investment Plan.

The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Program provides important
infrastructure to the Australian research community and benefits rural and regional Australia
through localised research infrastructure projects and facilities. Research in health and agriculture is
directly supported by many NRI facilities, which also support industry and research collaborations on
genomics and grain yields. Benefits will be realised for researchers in regional and remote areas
through continued access to NRI through eResearch platforms.

National Research Internship Program
From 2017 to 2020, $28.2 million is being provided to support more women in STEM careers. The
Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) National Research Internships Program will
support 1,400 new industry-based internships, with a particular focus on women researchers,
through a nationally expanded PhD internships program run by AMSI. The national program will be
open to all universities, including those in rural and regional areas, and will ensure participation by
regional students. The internships will provide an opportunity for PhD students to train and build
their research skills in an industry environment, and to develop their entrepreneurial skills and work-

Other relevant programs for higher education
The Government is also:
     Delivering funding of $150 million to the University of Tasmania to improve its critical
        infrastructure through the relocation and expansion of its Launceston and Burnie campuses.
        This initiative aims to address critical economic and community challenges facing the North
        and North-West of Tasmania by providing better access to quality higher education.
     Providing more than $30 million, over the next four years (2018-19 to 2021-22), to the
        Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) through the National Institute
        Grant, along with funding through the Research Support Program and Research Training
        Program to support its research activities. The institute provides specialised tertiary
        education opportunities for students, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
        students from remote parts of northern Australia.
     Providing funding of $73.1 million in 2018-19 in regional loading under the Commonwealth
        Grant Scheme to eligible universities with regional campuses to help them meet the costs
        associated with higher education delivery in regional areas. The subsidy supports domestic
        students undertaking a range of sub-bachelor, bachelor and postgraduate courses at public
        universities. Some students enrolled in other course types or with private higher education
        providers may also be eligible for the subsidy.

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