BAHA overlooked

26 May, 2014 01:00 AM
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We are very disappointed that hasn't happened.

COUNTRY parents feel their struggles with the Year 7 into high school transition were overlooked in this year's State Budget.

Given the extra year of boarding school fees that come with the State Government's Year Seven Policy, which will see all Year 7s in high school in 2015, parents had hoped there would be an increase in funding for the Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA).

The BAHA currently sits at $2105 per child per year but with the average price of boarding school fees creeping up some believed the allowance falls short.

WA Isolated Children's Parents' Association (ICPA) president Liz Sudlow said it was disappointing the BAHA was not increased in this year's budget.

"It is something that we have been lobbying for and we received a letter from the Minister about 12 months ago telling us that the BAHA might be considered in future budgets," she said.

"We are very disappointed that hasn't happened.

"We certainly would have liked to see an acknowledgement, especially with the fact parents are now going to be faced with six years of boarding fees."

Ms Sudlow said in recent years many boarding schools had increased their fees by between six and eight per cent while the BAHA had increased only $100 a year.

"We understand that allowance has to be reflective of the boarding fees at a government residential college but no increase at all shows a lack of regard on the part of the government for boarding families now faced with six years of high school education for their children," she said.

ICPA immediate past president Carina Kopke said funding for the BAHA should have increased.

"Even if it did nothing more than to at least acknowledge that parents are now paying for an extra year of boarding school fees," she said.

"Now we are all just hoping there is an increase next year when the transition comes in."

Education Minister Peter Collier said the State Government was firmly committed to providing financial support to eligible primary and secondary students who were enrolled in public and private boarding schools, residential colleges, and WA Colleges of Agriculture through the BAHA.

"Boarding at Perth schools is not the only option for country families, many students have the option of staying at a residential college and attending a public school," Mr Collier said.

"If eligible families chose this option, generous financial assistance is available, with the cost per child after allowances equating to about $50 a week.

"This includes accommodation, care, meals, educational and recreation programs.

"The BAHA is also available for eligible students who attend private boarding facilities.

"These students receive the same allowance from the State Government as public school students.

"The State Government does periodically review the allowances provided to support families with the costs of education.

"Changes to the BAHA may be considered as part of future State Budget processes."

Beacon mother Tryphena Gillett said she was disappointed but not surprised that there had been no increase to the BAHA.

"The government makes all of these changes but don't consider the affect it has on people in the country," she said.

"The fees for the extra year of boarding only add pressure to farm budgets, or to main income earners, as well as the secondary income earners."

"Boarding school fees go up roughly six per cent every year and the government should be putting their allowances up in line with that."

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