A two hundred page Report on Education in remote and complex environments has been released by the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training of the Australian Parliament. COVID-19 happened during this, making it more complex. My submission gets a mention on page 121:
"Similarly, Mr Tom Worthington argued for teachers to be trained to teach online, noting that ‘while we have the technology for teaching, what has been lacking during the COVID-19 pandemic are university and school teachers trained to use that technology effectively.’" (Submission 50)
List of recommendations
Recommendation 1To reduce barriers to education, the committee recommends the Government develop policies and programs that:
- generate investment, economic development and employment, and deliver essential infrastructure, including reliable and affordable access to electricity, in regional, rural and remote areas
- improve access and affordability in regional, rural and remote communities to:
- medical, ancillary and mental health services
- services and support for people with disability, including addressing thin markets in the National Disability Insurance Scheme
- public transport
- services and support for communities in times of crises or during periods of rural hardship, including access to Centrelink, and
- broadband and mobile phone reception, in particular extending the Sky Muster Education data offering to tertiary and vocational students in remote, regional and rural areas.
Recommendation 2The committee recommends that the government reaffirm its commitment to inclusive education in the new National Disability Strategy in 2021, and include a focus on ensuring inclusive education for children and young people with disability in regional, rural and remote locations. xviii In the development of the new Strategy, the government should consider whether a national inclusive education act is required to protect the right to inclusive education for students with disability.
Recommendation 3The committee recommends that, as part of its 2021 policy commitments to Closing the Gap, the Commonwealth set out a roadmap for improving the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including improved access to mental health treatment and support.
Recommendation 4The committee recommends the Minister for Education develop proposals to be incorporated in the new children’s education and care national workforce strategy in 2021 that:
- address barriers to access to quality early childhood education and care in regional, rural and remote communities, including cost
- improve the cultural competency of staff working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and
- support the development and professionalisation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood education and care workforce.
Recommendation 5The committee recommends that, as part of its 2021 policy commitments to Closing the Gap, the Commonwealth provide greater flexibility and surety in funding for wrap-around models of early intervention, family support, early childhood education and health care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Recommendation 6The committee recommends that, as part of its 2021 policy commitments to Closing the Gap, the Commonwealth provide up to 30 hours per week of subsidised early education and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Recommendation 7The committee recommends that the Commonwealth modify funding arrangements for mobile early childhood education to provide flexibility and surety of funding for these services in the 2021 Budget.
Recommendation 8The committee recommends that the Commonwealth support early learning programs through the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme Distance Education Allowance in the 2021 Budget.
Recommendation 9The committee recommends that, by May 2021, the Minister for Education publish a comprehensive implementation plan for the recommendations and actions outlined in the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (Halsey review).
Recommendation 10The committee recommends that the Education Minister develop, for inclusion in the new National School Reform Agreement, commencing in 2023:
- a proposal to introduce a needs-based school funding model that aims to address barriers to accessing education in remote and regional communities
- a proposal to ensure that all Australian students can access secondary school education, to a nationally-consistent minimum standard, regardless of their geographic location, and
- a proposal to enhance family and community engagement in shaping how schools apply the Australian Curriculum.
Recommendation 11The committee recommends that, as part of its 2021 policy commitments to Closing the Gap, the Commonwealth:
- provide adult literacy campaigns in communities with low levels of adult English literacy
- ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can access English as an Additional Language or Dialect support and instruction at school
- ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can access bilingual education where Standard Australian English is not the first language spoken, or where school communities have expressed a desire for this to occur
- establish programs that support the development and professionalisation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education workforce, and xx
- establish trauma-informed, cultural induction and training programs for educators working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Recommendation 12The committee recommends that, by May 2021, the Minister for Education publish a comprehensive implementation plan for the recommendations and actions outlined in the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (Napthine review).
Recommendation 13The committee recommends that the Minister for Education, as soon as practicably possible, consider evidence as to whether the regional loading to address the higher cost of delivering higher education at regional universities sufficiently recognises the higher costs.
Recommendation 14The committee recommends the Minister for Education develop a proposal for the Education Council to consider implementing in 2021 to enhance the integration of Australia’s Vocation Education and Training and Higher Education sectors.
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