THE regional education cuts announced by the McGowan government on December 13 sent shock waves around WA and caused stress and anxiety among families and communities.
In the days and weeks following the news, the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA), along with many others, worked tirelessly during the Christmas holiday period to campaign against the decisions.
ICPA WA sincerely thanks all those who acted by writing letters, contacting their local member for parliament, attending rallies, calling talkback radio or posting about regional students on social media.
The time given up by so many to ensure regional students continue to have access to an appropriate education was phenomenal and is greatly appreciated by all those affected by the decisions.
Four weeks later, on January 11, the huge public outcry resulted in a reversal of the decisions to close all five of the Schools of the Air as well as the Northam Residential College and cut funding to the gifted and talented programs.
Six camp schools were also meant to close but will remain open under new management although affordability for schools to utilise them is still of great concern.
ICPA WA continues to fight for the remaining cuts which include taking 20 per cent of funds from the Agricultural Education Farm Provision Trust which will now go to the State and become unavailable for agricultural programs in WA schools and the closure of the Moora Residential College.
The college provides accommodation for students attending Central Midlands Senior High School and should be kept open.
Its closure will be devastating for the students, the Moora townsite and the wider economic community.
ICPA WA has long advocated for more boarding facilities for regional students and strongly implores the government to reconsider for the benefit of regional areas so that its closure does not result in the downgrading of the school to a district high school.
These cuts followed an announcement earlier in 2017 that the Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA) was to be reduced over the next five years.
This was disappointing for ICPA which anticipated there would be no increase but was surprised to hear of the reduction.
Regional families are feeling the cost of educating their children more than ever.
ICPA WA will continue to advocate for an increase in this allowance.
This year’s ICPA WA State conference will be held on Friday, March 16 at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle.
The conference is an opportunity for members to meet and discuss issues which set the policy for the coming year.
It is expected there will be many issues debated with the recent education cuts causing much heartache to ICP WA members.
ICPA WA works to provide support and assistance to rural and regional families across WA by advocating for access to appropriate education.
ICPA WA welcomes donations through givenow.com.au to assist the fighting fund.
p To join ICPA: go to wa.icpa.com.au.