The annual Isolated Children’s Parents Association (ICPA) State Conference was held at Central Oval for the second year in a row, with a focus on delivering improved outcomes for isolated students.
The meeting, hosted by the Flinders Ranges ICPA Branch, gave delegates from across the state the opportunity to put forward motions for regional, rural and remote education.
ICPA members passed a number of motions, such as ensuring all distance education students have access to the NBN Education Port and continuing to seek concessional airfares for students who rely on air services to access education.
One of the carried motions – put forward by the Marla Oodnadatta Branch – was to lobby Education Minister John Gardner about the possibility of separating Port Augusta School of the Air (SOTA) from Open Access College.
ICPA State President Kerry Williams said the issue stems from a difficulty in attracting staff to the SOTA campus in Port Augusta.
“School of the Air is part of a much larger Open Access College situated in Adelaide, so our families feel like it perhaps isn’t best meeting the needs for their unique situations,” she said.
“We’re struggling in Port Augusta to get teachers with SOTA, so parents believe that if it becomes its own school with its own principal, it could develop its own culture and be more connected with the Port Augusta region.”
ICPA members also addressed the changes in the funding model for the Remote and Isolated Children’s Exercise (RICE), which were recently announced by federal government.
Members voted in favour of confirming that the transition to the new model does not have any negative impacts on children and their families in remote areas.
Guest speakers from NBN and Telstra, as well as an IT specialist, answered questions regarding communication issues, while representatives from the Australian Boarding Schools Association also spoke at the conference.
ICPA Life Member Colleen Manning said the event was a good opportunity to express any concerns about the future of regional, rural and remote education.
“There were good, healthy motions presented and there’s a positive attitude,” she said. “It will start conversations and that’s always a good thing.”