Education and Training: Investing in Regional Growth—2016-17

The Education and Training portfolio's objective is to provide learning opportunities for all Australians, regardless of where they live. The Department of Education and Training delivers national policies and programmes to help Australians access world-class child care, early learning, school education, higher education, vocational education and training, international education and research.

Through its range of programmes the Education and Training portfolio supports Australians living in regional and rural communities. For example, the Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools programme supports up to 40 remote and very remote primary schools to improve literacy skills of their students.

The Education and Training portfolio delivers a number of measures to encourage greater workforce participation and productivity across the nation. For example the Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools pilot, taking place in Ballarat and Geelong, supports students to undertake further education, training or work and build skills highly desired by employers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries.

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New Initiatives

Students First—Indexation of School Funding From 2018

The Australian Government will provide an additional $1.2 billion from 2017-18 under Students First—indexation of school funding from 2018 measure. This funding will assist in maintaining growth in federal school funding beyond the 2017 school year at a rate that better reflects the increasing costs of schooling.

The funding increase comes from a change of indexation rate moving from Consumer Price Index to an education specific rate of 3.56 per cent from 2018-2020. There will also be an additional allowance for changes in enrolments.

This measure will bring the Australian Government's total funding commitment to school education to $73.6 billion, an increase of $0.93 billion, over the Budget and Forward Estimates 2016-17 to 2019-20.

Australian International Education: Enabling Growth and Innovation

The Australian Government will provide $12.0 million in funding over four years from 2016-17 to support initiatives under Australia's first National Strategy for International Education. The National Strategy for International Education commits to engaging regional communities and international students and to promote regional excellence in education, training and research. Increasing regional Australia's share in the benefits of international education is part of the Australian Government's plan to sustainably grow the sector.

Additional Funding for Students with Disability

The Australian Government will provide $118.2 million of additional funding, over the existing disability loading, for students with disability over two years from 2016–17. This fulfils the Australian Government's commitment to students with disability funding, informed by the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability from 2016. This funding is in addition to the $5.1 billion in funding for students with disability already committed by the Australian Government over the period 2014 to 2017.

The funding provides schools with funding certainty for students with disability from 2014 to 2017, and can be targeted to those with the greatest need, including students with disability in regional and remote schools.

National Availability of Early Learning Languages Australia

Following a successful trial involving 41 preschool services in 2015 and an extension to around 300 services in 2016, the Australian Government will invest a total of $5.9 million over two years to make the Early Learning Languages Australia programme available to preschool services nationally from 2017.

The Early Learning Languages Australia programme is an innovative play-based language learning application (app) available on mobile tablet devices that provides preschool children with the opportunity to learn a language other than English, including Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Indonesian, French and Arabic.

The apps are designed so that preschool educators do not need to have any knowledge of the language being taught. This is particularly beneficial for use in regional and remote areas where access to qualified language teachers can be problematic.

Using an opt-in "bring your own device" approach, the programme includes education and IT support and funding for 1,000 low socio-economic status preschool services to purchase mobile tablet devices.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

The Australian Government is committed to preserving Australia's Indigenous culture and heritage much of which is held within Australia's regional communities. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies national collection is a critical research infrastructure with a wide range of tangible benefits for regional Australia, including the tourism, mining, agricultural, environmental and higher education sectors. It supports native title research, policy advice and a range of other research activities. In recognition of the importance of this national collection, the Government has committed $40.0 million in additional funding over four years for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. This will enable the collection of critical cultural knowledge, and promote an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, traditions, languages and stories, past and present. This knowledge will be digitised to protect it for all Australians. Funding of $10.0 million per annum for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies is ongoing.

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Current Initiatives

Industry Skills Fund

The growth and competitiveness of small to medium business in Australia's regional areas is important for our economy. The Australian Government is providing $31.7 million in 2016–17 for the Industry Skills Fund to support Australian businesses, including those in regional areas, to up-skill and re-skill their workers. This helps businesses become more productive, competitive and sustainable in domestic and global markets.

The Fund is the Australian Government's initiative for addressing workforce capability issues so that businesses can respond quickly to new and changing opportunities. The Industry Skills Fund primarily targets micro and small to medium enterprises that plan to train their workers to capitalise on growth opportunities and adapt to rapid technological change. Businesses operating in, or seeking to expand into, northern Australia are provided with additional support. The Industry Skills Fund also provides for a Skills Adviser Network which delivers intensive support to businesses that are looking to grow and develop their workforce, including in regional Australia.

Skills for Education and Employment Programme

The Skills for Education and Employment programme has operated since 2002. In 2016–17 the Australian Government is providing funding of $125.4 million for this national programme to provide over 24,000 eligible job seekers with language, literacy and numeracy training. This training will assist job seekers to build skills necessary to gain employment or participate in further training. Clients will receive free accredited training through registered training organisations. Training is delivered to meet both client and industry needs. Services are available nationally through face-to-face and distance delivery.

Additional Funding For Regional Schools

Under the Australian Education Act 2013, $364.3 million has been allocated in 2016 to support schools located in regional, rural and remote areas that have additional needs. Also, many small regional schools will benefit from demographic-driven loadings totalling approximately $266.1 million.

Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools Programme

The $22.0 million Flexible Literacy for Remote Primary Schools programme supports up to 40 remote and very remote primary schools to implement two explicit teaching approaches: Direct Instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction. The programme is delivered by Good to Great Schools Australia and has been funded since 2013–14. The programme seeks to:

  • increase teacher pedagogical skills in teaching literacy through the use of alphabetic teaching approaches, in particular Direct Instruction and Explicit Direct Instruction; and
  • improve literacy results for students in participating schools.

Remote Indigenous Students Attending Non-Government Boarding Schools

From 2014 to 2016, non-government boarding schools with large numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boarding students from remote areas are eligible to receive additional recurrent funding under the Indigenous Boarding Initiative. The Indigenous Boarding Initiative will total $11.9 million. The additional funding will help non-government boarding schools deliver improved services to students and provide effective support to boost school attendance and engagement.

Reading Writing Hotline

The Australian Government provides funding of more than $500,000 in 2016–17 to TAFE New South Wales (Sydney Institute) to support the continued delivery of the Reading Writing Hotline. This important referral service supports adults to improve their reading, writing and numeracy skills. It is delivered nationally, with targeted marketing to regional communities across Australia, where there is often a high need for services.

Adult Migrant English Programme

The Adult Migrant English Programme provides up to 510 hours of English language tuition to eligible migrants and humanitarian entrants, within the first five years of their arrival in Australia. This helps them to successfully settle, and participate socially and economically in Australian society. Additional tuition is also available under the Special Preparatory Program and the Settlement Language Pathways to Employment and Training programme. The Australian Government has committed to providing $299.7 million in 2016–17 for the Adult Migrant English Programme. The Adult Migrant English Programme is delivered nationally in metropolitan, rural and regional areas, including through classroom-based and distance e-learning.

Trade Support Loans

Trade Support Loans are loans paid in instalments totalling up to $20,000 over the life of an Australian Apprenticeship. These loans assist apprentices with everyday costs while they complete their apprenticeship. Eligible Australian Apprentices, including those in regional areas, may apply for regular instalments according to their needs.

Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme

Eligible employers in rural and regional Australia who want to take on apprentices will continue to benefit from the Australian Government's 2016–17 investment of $394.9 million in the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme. The measures encourage employing apprentices in regional areas experiencing skills shortages or skills drought. Apprentices may also be eligible for the Living Away From Home Allowance.

Australian Apprenticeship Support Network

Australian Apprenticeship Support Network places a greater focus on delivery of advice and direct support to apprentices and employers, tailoring support to meet individual requirements throughout the apprenticeship lifecycle. Across the country, there are around 400 Australian Apprenticeship Support Network locations.

Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools Pilot

The Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) pilot is part of a suite of initiatives designed to build Australia's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) capability. The Australian Government has provided $500,000 in seed funding over two years from 2015–16 to test and adapt the United States' P-TECH model in the Australian context. 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. Pilot sites have been established in the regional communities of Geelong and Ballarat (Victoria).

Commonwealth Grant Scheme

The Australian Government will provide around $7.1 billion in 2016-17 through the Commonwealth Grants Scheme to subsidise students' higher education costs. This is an increase in funding of 65 per cent since 2009. The subsidy is available for all domestic students enrolled in a bachelor degree at a public university. Students enrolled in other course types or with private higher education providers may also be eligible for this subsidy. Under the Commonwealth Grants Scheme, universities with regional campuses receive additional funding of $70.8 million in 2016-17 in regional loading to help meet the costs associated with these campuses.

Higher Education Loan Program

The Australian Government Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) provides loans to students, including many from regional and rural areas, to help them with the cost of their tuition fees. 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.

Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

In 2016-17, the Australian Government will provide $4.5 million to the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education through the National Institutes programme. Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education provides unique tertiary education opportunities for students, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote parts of northern Australia.

Higher Education Participation Programme

The Higher Education Participation Programme funds universities to improve access to domestic undergraduate courses for people from low socio-economic status backgrounds and to improve their retention and completion rates. In 2016-17, the Australian Government will provide $146.6 million for the Higher Education Participation Programme, which will benefit students at regional and outer metropolitan universities, which typically have higher proportions of low socio-economic status students. In 2016, universities with headquarters in regional areas were allocated $48.3 million from the Higher Education Participation Programme. The programme helps low socio-economic status students to go to university, for example through scholarships, and assists them in their studies through academic support. Under the Higher Education Participation Programme, universities can develop outreach activities in partnership with primary and secondary schools, vocational education and training providers and community groups to raise the aspirations and build the capacity of people from low socio-economic status backgrounds to participate in higher education.

National Disability Coordination Officer Programme

In 2016–17, the Australian Government will provide $4.3 million for the National Disability Coordination Officer Programme to assist people with disability to access and participate in tertiary education and subsequent employment. The programme aims to build links and coordinate services to ensure a smooth transition from school to tertiary education and, subsequently, the workforce. It operates nationally, including in regional areas.

Higher Education Disability Support Programme

The Higher Education Disability Support Programme assists all public universities, including regional campuses, to fund the cost of educational support services and equipment for domestic students with disability, and to attract and support these students in higher education. In 2016–17 the Australian Government will provide $7.2 million for the Higher Education Disability Support Programme, for the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on the Education and Training website which promotes inclusive teaching and learning practices for students with disability.

The National School Chaplaincy Programme—Supporting the Emotional Wellbeing of Students

The National School Chaplaincy Programme provides pastoral care services by supporting approximately 3,000 schools to engage a chaplain, with 48 per cent of these in schools located in regional, remote or very remote locations. Schools are eligible to receive up to $20,000 per annum (or up to $24,000 for remote/very remote schools) to engage the services of a school chaplain. Schools were invited by States and Territories to apply for funding under the National School Chaplaincy Programme.

Independent Public Schools—Assisting Government Schools and Building Stronger School Communities

The Australian Government recognises that giving schools and school leaders greater autonomy can help improve student results. Great schools have leaders and teachers who have the independence to make the decisions and develop the courses that best meets the needs of their students.

The Australian Government is supporting school autonomy with its $70.0 million Independent Public Schools initiative. The initiative aims to give selected government schools more control of local decision making and to help encourage stronger links between schools, parents and the local community.

The activities being funded include professional development for school leaders in managing their school operations, training for school council members to help them become more involved in their school, and the use of experienced and expert principals to support other schools to build leadership capability.

All States and Territories are participating in the initiative, and over 5,000 government schools across Australia, with millions of students, will benefit. The flexibility and responsiveness provided by the Independent Public Schools initiative will be of particular benefit in regional areas where local schools and their communities are best placed to know what their students need to learn and thrive. Schools in regional Australia will particularly benefit given they often have unique needs that are best understood by the school community itself.

Inspiring All Australians in Digital Literacy And STEM

As part of the Australian Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda, Australian students will be supported through $64.6 million worth of initiatives to embrace the digital age and increase engagement with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Students who may be most at risk of falling behind in the digital age, including those in regional communities, will be given opportunities to participate and engage.

Teach for Australia

The Teach for Australia programme, introduced in 2009, fast-tracks high calibre, non-teaching graduates (known as Associates) into disadvantaged schools through two years of intensive teacher training that leads to a Master of Teaching. To date the Australian Government has supported eight cohorts of the programme, providing $34.65 million for cohorts one to five and, through the current contract, an additional $22.4 million for cohorts six to eight. Teach for Australia partners with schools serving low socio-economic communities, with over 170 Associates being placed in regional and remote communities, including Portland and Horsham (Victoria), Katherine and Tennant Creek (Northern Territory), and Kalgoorlie (Western Australia). Over 40 per cent of Associates are working in regional communities, filling hard-to-staff teaching positions.

The National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for 2016 and 2017 (National Partnership)

The Australian Government has committed a further $843.0 million to extend the National Partnership arrangements to support preschool programmes until the end of 2017. Universal access to early childhood education aims to ensure children can participate in a quality, early childhood education programme in the year before full-time school.

Jobs for Families Child Care Package

The Government will invest around $40 billion in child care support over the next four years. This includes an increase of more than $3 billion to support implementation of the Jobs for Families Package announced in the 2015-2016 Budget, and transition support to the new arrangements. This additional investment is to provide care that is affordable, accessible, and flexible. Support for rural and remote families is an important feature of the Jobs for Families Child Care Package, including recognising the extra challenges families face to access child care and early learning in rural and remote locations. The Package is being implemented in stages, with the Nanny Pilot Programme commencing in January 2016 and the Inclusion Support Programme commencing in July 2016.

Interim Home-Based Carer Subsidy Programme (Nanny Pilot Programme)

The Interim Home-Based Carer Subsidy Programme commenced on 1 January 2016. The programme is a trial of extending fee assistance to care delivered in the home by nannies in parallel with the existing In Home Care Programme. The Interim Home Based Carer Subsidy Programme targets families who find it difficult to access mainstream child care services, including shift workers (such as nurses, police officers and ambulance officers) and families living in regional and remote areas. As part of the 2016-17 Budget, the maximum per child subsidy has been lifted from $5.95 an hour to $8.50 an hour. Service providers will also have the opportunity to directly recruit families where there is spare capacity to do so. The programme has also been extended to 30 June 2018.

Inclusion Support Programme

The Inclusion Support Programme will improve the capacity and capability of child care services to include children with additional needs alongside their typically developing peers. Children with additional needs include children with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children or children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Support will include practical inclusion advice, increased funding to services to assist with the inclusion of children with additional needs and access to specialist equipment. Approximately $543 million will be provided over four years for this programme. This will help to ensure children with additional needs in regional and rural areas have the opportunity to participate in early childhood learning programmes.

Child Care Service Support Programme

The Child Care Services Support Programme provides financial assistance to child care service providers to improve access to child care for children, families and communities.

A key element of the Child Care Services Support Programme is the Community Support Programme, which supports the sustainability of child care for all Australian children and families, including in areas or under circumstances where services would not otherwise be viable—such as in disadvantaged or regional and remote areas.

National Occasional Care Programme

The Australian Government believes that families deserve a greater choice in meeting their child care needs and understands that occasional care provides a vital service for many families. This is particularly evident among families living in regional, rural and remote areas, where occasional care may be required due to seasonal work. In line with this, the Australian Government reinstated funding from 2014-15 for Non-Child Care Benefit approved occasional care, known as the National Occasional Care Programme.

The Australian Government has entered into project agreements with Victoria and South Australia to deliver increased access to occasional care, particularly in regional and remote areas, with approximately $6 million of Australian Government funding committed to these two States over the forward estimates.

State and Territory governments are also being asked to provide a co-contribution of 45 per cent of the cost.

Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance

Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance provides parents on eligible income support payments, many who live in regional areas, with additional assistance to help meet the cost of child care. The Australian Government is investing $39.1 million in the programme in 2016–17. Eligible parents are given increased help to meet the cost of child care while they enhance their skills through work, study or training to enable them to enter or return to the workforce.

Budget Based Funded Service Programme

The Budget Based Funded Services Programme supports access to child care in regional, remote and Indigenous communities. The Australian Government provides funding to approximately 300 child care and early learning services through this programme.

Budget based services currently include centre-based long day care, out-of-school-hours care, mobile child care services, and playgroups. The Australian Government has committed $61.8 million to the programme in 2016-17.

Research Block Grants

In 2016, the Australian Government is providing $1.8 billion to universities to support research and research training through a number of performance-based schemes. Research block grants are provided to all Australian universities and help to support regionally-based researchers and research students. Universities are key to the economic and social growth of many regions, through the employment they provide and the students they attract as well as their role in innovation systems.

The Australian Government announced in the National Innovation and Science Agenda that it will drive greater research-industry collaboration by introducing new research block grant funding arrangements for universities in 2017 that will give greater emphasis to success in industry and other end-user engagement. An additional $180.4 million will be provided over the forward estimates to increase incentives for research collaboration.

National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy

Under the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian Government has committed ongoing funding of $150.0 million per year from 1 July 2017 (indexed for inflation) to the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy to support the operations of major national research infrastructure.

Prior to the commencement of this funding, the Australian Government provided an additional $150.0 million in 2016–17 on top of the $150.0 million provided in 2015–16 to operate and maintain existing research infrastructure. The strategy provides important infrastructure to the Australian research community and benefits rural and regional Australia through localised research infrastructure projects and facilities.

Future funding under National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy will be subject to the outcomes of the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.

The Antarctic Gateway Partnership

In 2014, the Australian Research Council funded a new research initiative to enable scientific collaboration between the University of Tasmania, CSIRO and the Australian Antarctic Division. Investment of $24.0 million over three years from 2014–15 on the Antarctic Gateway Partnership Initiative will cement Hobart and Australia as a global hub for Antarctic and Southern Ocean research with flow on financial benefits to Tasmania.

Tropical Health and Medicine

North Queensland continues to benefit from the Australian Research Council's funding of $42.0 million over four years from 2014–15 for the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University. This unique research project is helping to improve health outcomes and service delivery for regional, remote, and under-served communities in tropical Australia, in particular, through research and training in virology, disease and transmission control as well as the development of new treatments and vaccines for tropical diseases.

Australian Research Council

The Australian Research Council advises the Australian Government on research matters, manages the National Competitive Grants Programme and the Excellence in Research for Australia initiative. The Australian Government will invest approximately $745.1 million in the National Competitive Grants Programme to support research across a wide range of disciplines including regional and rural issues. Recipients of funding under the grants programme include universities in regional areas, and the Australian Research Council encourages partnerships between researchers and industry, government, community organisations and the international community.

Women's Safety Package

Under the $100.0 million Women's Safety Package, the Government is providing $5.0 million to develop curriculum and teaching resources to educate children at all year levels across primary and secondary schools, from Foundation to Year 12, in age-appropriate ways about respectful relationships and on ways to recognise and counter domestic violence. This will be done by developing new and additional resources to support the teaching of the respectful relationships component of the Australian Curriculum: Health and physical education, which was endorsed by all Australian Education Ministers on 18 September 2015.

The curriculum and teaching resources will be freely available to all Australian schools through an expanded and refreshed Safe Schools Hub website, which is the digital home of the National Safe Schools Framework and provides a range of free high quality information and resources on student safety and wellbeing for teachers, students, parents, specialist professionals, and pre-service teachers.

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