Education and Training: Regional Australia—A Stronger Economy Delivering Stronger Regions 2018–19

The Education and Training portfolio’s mission is to create opportunities for all Australians to access high quality education from the early years, through schooling and tertiary settings. The Australian Government, through the Education and Training portfolio, wants to be acknowledged for the global reach of our research and internationally recognised for the quality of our education system.

By creating and strengthening access to quality education for all Australians and for international students, the Education and Training portfolio maximises opportunity through learning. Through such opportunity, individuals, families and communities are encouraged to reach their potential, participate in the social and economic wellbeing of their communities, and contribute to national and global prosperity.

The Education and Training portfolio, through its range of programs, supports Australians living in regional and rural communities. For example, new initiatives in response to the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education will provide greater access to higher education for rural and regional students by increasing the number of Commonwealth supported sub-bachelor (including enabling) places as well as providing an additional 500 Commonwealth supported bachelor places for students studying in regional study hubs. The High Achieving Teachers Program will fill hard-to-staff teaching positions in rural and remote schools, and build skills in regional communities that are desired by employers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries.

New Initiatives

Government Response to the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education

As part of its 2016 election commitments, the Australian Government commissioned an independent review into regional, rural and remote education to consider factors that impact on student learning outcomes and identify innovative and evidence-based approaches to help students succeed at school and in their transition to further study, training and employment.

In response to the review, the Australian Government is providing $96.1 million over four years.

The Government will provide $28.2 million over four years from 2018-19 to expand the availability of sub-bachelor (including enabling) places to allow greater access to higher education for rural and regional students. It is estimated that approximately 500 additional commencing sub-bachelor (including enabling) Commonwealth supported places annually from 2019 will be provided to institutions that operate in regional areas. The Australian Government is also providing $14.0 million over four years from 2018‑19 to fully support an additional 185 commencing Commonwealth supported bachelor places from 2019 (rising to 500 in 2022) for students studying in regional study hubs.

The Department of Social Services is providing funding through Improved Access to Youth Allowance (YA) for Regional Students. The Parental Income cut-off for the regional workforce independence criterion will increase  from $150,000 to $160,000, plus an additional $10,000 increase to the cut-off for each additional child in the family.

Additional Commonwealth supported places for the University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Tasmania and Southern Cross University

The Australian Government will provide an additional $123.6 million from 2017-18 to 2021-22 for additional Commonwealth supported places at the University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Tasmania and Southern Cross University.

The funding will support the universities' expansion into regional areas.

  • University of the Sunshine Coast will receive funding for an additional 1,200 ongoing bachelor places in 2020, growing to 3,600 ongoing places in 2022. These places will be utilised at a new campus in Moreton Bay.
  • University of Tasmania will receive funding for an additional 500 sub‑bachelor places in 2018 and 1,000 ongoing places from 2019. These places will be utilised to support the Northern Tasmanian Transformation Project.
  • Southern Cross University will receive funding for an additional 105 ongoing places in 2019 and 210 ongoing places in 2020. These places, which are expected to grow to 315 ongoing places by 2021, will be utilised in allied health courses at a new campus in Coffs Harbour.

Quality Schools Reforms

Under the Quality Schools reform package, the Australian Government is implementing a new needs-based funding model for schools that delivers a consistent Commonwealth approach for schools in all states and territories, adjusted on the basis of need.

Under these arrangements, the Australian Government will grow its record level of recurrent funding for schools from $17.5 billion in 2017 to $29.5 billion in 2027, bringing total investment to $243.5 billion from 2018 to 2027. Of this, an estimated $56.9 billion will benefit students in regional and remote schools. Commonwealth funding for students in regional and remote Australia will grow from $3.9 billion in 2017 to $6.8 billion in 2027—an increase of 75 per cent. On average over that period, per student funding for students in regional areas will grow by 4.9 per cent per year.

The new funding arrangements retain the Schooling Resource Standard, which comprises a base funding amount for all students and loadings to address disadvantage.

One of the loadings addresses school location, which recognises the additional costs of delivering education outside metropolitan areas. It is estimated the location loading will account for 2.3 per cent of Australian Government recurrent school funding expenditure in 2018. Funding for the location loading will grow, on average, by 5.8 per cent per year over the next decade.

Further, a school size loading, may benefit some regional schools, providing extra funding for medium, small and very small schools in recognition that they cannot achieve the same efficiencies of scale as a large school. It is estimated the size loading will account for 1.6 per cent of Australian Government recurrent school funding expenditure in 2018. Funding for the size loading will grow, on average, by 3.8 per cent per year over the next decade.

The Quality Schools package also provides additional support for government schools in the Northern Territory and support for literacy initiatives in Tasmania.

The Australian Government commissioned the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, chaired by Mr David Gonski AC, to provide advice on how increasing Australian Government funding should be used in Australian schools to improve education outcomes. The recommendations of this review will inform the development of a new national school reform agreement with states and territories.

The New Child Care Package

The Australian Government’s childcare reforms are investing an additional $2.5 billion to provide more support for families. The centrepiece of the new package is the new Child Care Subsidy, which will commence from 2 July 2018. The subsidy will be simpler than the current multiple payment system and will be paid directly to service providers. The new arrangements are designed to ensure that more financial support is targeted to the families who need it most to access child care.

Support for rural and remote families is an important feature of the reforms. The $1.2 billion Child Care Safety Net aims to give the most vulnerable children a strong start. This includes specific funding in the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) to assist vulnerable or disadvantaged families and communities. Budget Based Funded services are being supported to transition to the new subsidy. These services predominantly operate in rural and remote communities.

As part of the CCCF, the Connected Beginnings Program commenced in July 2016. The program provides for the integration of child care, maternal and child health, and family support services in schools where Indigenous communities are experiencing disadvantage.

Universal Access to Preschool Funding

The Australian Government has committed $440.1 million to extend the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for a further year, providing Commonwealth support for preschool until the end of 2019. Preschool prepares children for school and is particularly beneficial for disadvantaged children. This measure will benefit approximately 348,000 children each year in the year before school, including approximately 100,000 in regional communities. The extension will provide governments with time to work collaboratively on preschool arrangements from 2020.

High Achieving Teachers Program

The Australian Government is taking steps to support alternative pathways into the teaching profession and support areas of workforce shortage. From 2018-19 alternative employment-based pathways will be provided into teaching to increase the number and distribution of high achieving teachers in Australia.

National Research Infrastructure Investment Plan—implementation of Government response

The Australian Government is investing an additional $1.9 billion through the Department of Education and Training over 12 years from 2017-18 to implement the Research Infrastructure Investment Plan (the Plan), informed by the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap (the Roadmap) to address priority National Research Infrastructure (NRI) projects.

Projects will be delivered through an expansion of the existing National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and will bring the Government's investment in NRI projects under the Plan to $4.1 billion over 12 years (indexed for inflation).

The Government has provided total funding of $140.0 million to enable urgent upgrades to Australia’s two peak high performance-computing facilities located at the Australian National University (announced in the 2017‑18 MYEFO) and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre hosted at the University of Western Australia provided through the Industry portfolio.

The NCRIS Program provides important infrastructure to the Australian research community and benefits rural and regional Australia through localised research infrastructure projects and facilities. Research in health and agriculture is directly supported by many NRI facilities, which also support industry and research collaborations on genomics and grain yields. Benefits will be realised for researchers in regional and remote areas through continued access to NRI through eResearch platforms.

Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA)

The ELLA program is an innovative, digital play-based language learning initiative aimed at making language learning engaging and interesting to pre-schoolers. ELLA includes a series of interactive applications (apps), which are available on tablet devices that provides the opportunity to learn a language other than English, including Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Indonesian, French, Italian, Spanish, and Arabic. Modern Greek and Hindi were introduced in 2018.

The Australian Government has committed $11.8 million over three years from 2018-19 to extend the highly successful ELLA program in up to 5,000 preschool services, and trial ELLA in Foundation to Year 2 in up to 300 schools. There will be further development of the ELLA apps into four new languages; Turkish, German, Korean and Vietnamese. Regional and remote Australia will benefit directly as the apps are designed so that preschool educators do not need the knowledge of the language being taught. This is particularly beneficial for use in regional and remote communities where access to qualified language teachers can be limited.

The Australian Government has invested $15.7 million in the program from 2014 to 2018. In 2018, approximately 2500 services are participating in the program, which represents a reach of over 80,000 children.

National School Chaplaincy Program

The National School Chaplaincy Program aims to support the wellbeing of students and school communities through the provision of pastoral care services and other support services.

The Australian Government has committed to renew the program. While the program does not specifically target rural and regional communities, schools selected to participate in the program are eligible to receive up to $20,000 per annum or up to $24,000 for remote and very remote schools, to engage the services of a qualified school chaplain.

Current Initiatives

Regional Study Hubs

The Australian Government is providing $16.7 million from 2018-19 to 2021-22 to improve access to higher education for students from rural and remote Australia by supporting the establishment and operation of regional study hubs. Such hubs typically support regional students to study courses locally delivered by distance from any Australian university by providing greater access to study support and infrastructure.

The measure will assist in the establishment and maintenance of up to eight community-owned regional study hubs across regional Australia.

Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships

The Australian Government is fulfilling its election commitment to provide $24.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to 2020-21 for Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships, which will support 1200 regional and remote students to undertake science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies. The scholarships are for undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational education students, and aim to improve access to educational opportunities for regional and remote students.

School Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives

As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian Government has allocated over $64.0 million to fund early learning and school STEM initiatives under the Inspiring all Australians in Digital Literacy and STEM measure. The initiatives support children and young people to embrace the digital age and increase their engagement with STEM education. Students who are most at risk of falling behind in the digital age, including those in regional communities, will be given opportunities to participate and engage. Support is also available for educators to increase their capacity to teach STEM subjects in preschool programs and in schools.

This funding is in addition to $12.0 million provided to restore the focus on, and increase the uptake of, STEM in all Australian primary and secondary schools, under the Restoring the Focus on STEM measure of the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. A total of $5.0 million was also provided under the Australian Maths and Science Participation Program to continue existing science programs.

Teach for Australia 

The Teach for Australia program fast-tracks high calibre, non-teaching graduates (known as Associates) into disadvantaged secondary schools through two years of intensive teacher training that leads to a Master of Teaching.

The Australian Government is supporting 10 cohorts of the Teach for Australia program, providing more than $77.0 million in funding through past and present contracts spanning 2008-09 to 2020-21. The program has placed 676 teaching Associates in more than 155 rural, remote and metropolitan schools in Victoria, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, filling hard-to-staff teaching positions, including in STEM subjects. Over 40 per cent of Associates have been placed in regional, rural and remote communities, while the remainder are in disadvantaged metropolitan schools.

English Language Learning for Indigenous Children (ELLIC) Program

The Australian Government is providing $5.9 million from 2017-18 to 2020-21 to trial English learning applications (apps) to improve literacy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children for whom English is a second language. The trial will take place over 2019 and 2020 in at least 20 preschools and is based on the successful Early Learning Languages Australia program.

The trial will further support the Australian Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap in literacy achievement between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children. Children will access the apps on tablet devices in preschool, supported by educators trained on how to integrate ELLIC into the preschool’s learning program. The selection of preschools for this program will focus on regional and remote areas, which will be identified through consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Supporting More Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Careers: Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI)—National Research Internship Program

The Australian Government is providing $28.2 million from 2016-17 to 2019-20 to support more women in STEM careers. The AMSI National Research Internship Program will support 1,400 new industry-based internships, with a particular focus on women researchers, through a nationally expanded PhD internships program run by AMSI. The national program will be open to all universities, including those in rural and regional areas, and will ensure participation by regional students. The internships will provide an opportunity for PhD students to train and build their research skills in an industry environment, and to develop their entrepreneurial skills and work-readiness.

Learning for Life Program

The Australian Government is providing $48.0 million over four years, from 2016-17 to 2019-20, to expand The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program, which will support an additional 24,000 disadvantaged students.

The Learning for Life program provides financial, practical and emotional support to disadvantaged students to encourage them to stay at school, complete Year 12 (or its equivalent) and successfully transition from school to work or to further education and training. The program is delivered in over 90 communities across every state and territory, approximately half in regional and rural areas.

Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools Pilot (P-TECH)

The Australian Government is providing $5.1 million from 2016 to 2021 to pilot the P‑TECH model as part of its strategy to improve Australia’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) capability.

Current P-TECH sites classified as regional include Geelong and Ballarat, Victoria; Townsville, Queensland; Burnie, Tasmania; Wyong and Heatherbrae, New South Wales; and Darwin, Northern Territory.

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.

Jobs and Growth in Tasmania—University of Tasmania campuses in Launceston and Burnie

The Australian Government has committed funding of $150.0 million to the University of Tasmania to improve its critical infrastructure through the relocation and expansion of its Launceston and Burnie campuses. This initiative aims to address critical economic and community challenges facing the North and North‑West of Tasmania by providing better access to quality higher education.

Commonwealth Grant Scheme

The Australian Government provided $7.0 billion in 2017-18 through the Commonwealth Grant Scheme to subsidise students’ higher education costs. This is an increase in funding of 69 per cent since 2009. The subsidy supports domestic students undertaking a range of sub-bachelor, bachelor and postgraduate courses at public universities. Some students enrolled in other course types or with private higher education providers may also be eligible for the subsidy. Under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, eligible universities with regional campuses will receive funding of $73.1 million in 2018‑19 in regional loading to help meet the costs associated with higher education delivery in regional areas.

Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) provides specialised tertiary education opportunities for students, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote parts of northern Australia. In recognition of BIITE’s important role, it will receive over $30 million over the next four years (2018-19 to 2021‑22) through the National Institute Grant, along with funding through the Research Support Program and Research Training Program to support its research activities.

Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP)

HEPPP provides funding to universities to improve access to undergraduate courses for people from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds, and improve their retention and completion rates. This includes assisting students from regional and remote Australia who are from low SES backgrounds. The Australian Government will provide $650.4 million in funding to public universities under the HEPPP over four years from 2018-19 to 2021-22.

Reading Writing Hotline

The Australian Government is providing $0.6 million in 2018-19 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.

Skilling Australians Fund

The Skilling Australians Fund is an important part of the Government’s commitment to growing the number of apprenticeships and traineeships and working with state and territory governments to achieve this goal. The focus on apprentices and trainees recognised that they are a national training priority area and that they are the flagship of the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

The Fund will be managed through a new project based National Partnership Agreement, requiring state and territory governments to commit matched funding and develop projects focused on support for apprenticeships and traineeships across a range of agreed priority areas, including rural and regional areas. Each project will also require engagement with, and support from, employers and industry. The Government is confident that more people will be able to choose and succeed in an apprenticeship pathway, and that more employers will be able to gain the skilled workers they need to drive innovation and growth.

Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP)

The Australian Government is providing $303.6 million in 2018-19 for the AMEP, which provides up to 510 hours of free 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 Australia. Additional tuition is also available under the Special Preparatory Program, the Settlement Language Pathways to Employment and Training Program, and Adult Migrant English Program Extend.

AMEP is delivered nationally in metropolitan, rural and regional areas, including through classroom-based and distance e-learning.

Vocational Education and Training Student Loans (VSL)

In the six months to 31 December 2017, the Australian Government supported approximately 35,000 students, including 1,900 rural and regional students, to study higher level vocational qualifications aligned to workplace and economic need through the new VSL program. VSL commenced on 1 January 2017 and replaced the VET FEE-HELP scheme, which closed to new students on 31 December 2016.

Skills for Education and Employment Program

Since 2002, the Skills for Education and Employment Program has provided training to assist job seekers to build skills necessary to gain employment or participate in further training. In 2018-19, the Australian Government is providing funding of $93.2 million for this national program to provide 17,250 eligible job seekers with language, literacy and numeracy training. Clients 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.

Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program

Eligible employers in rural and regional Australia who want to take on apprentices will continue to benefit from the Australian Government’s 2018-19 investment of $392.1 million in the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program. The program provides additional assistance for employing apprentices in regional areas experiencing skills shortages or drought. Apprentices may also be eligible for the Living Away from Home Allowance.

Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)

The Australian Government HELP provides loans to students, including many from regional and rural areas, to help them with the cost of their tuition. Eligible 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.

Research Block Grants

The Australian Government has provided $1.9 billion in 2017-18 to universities to support research and research training through a number of performance-based schemes. Research block grants are provided to all Australian public 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.

Research block grant funding arrangements for universities support success in industry and other end-user engagement and drive greater research industry collaboration.

Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices (ISMAA)

The Australian Government announced the ISMAA program in the 2017-18 Budget, committing $60.0 million over two years to support over 40,000 Australian Apprentices.

ISMAA complements existing apprenticeship support mechanisms by delivering industry specific mentoring services to apprentices in industries undergoing structural change. The support is focused on apprentices who are in the first two years of their training and will help to address particular careers and skills development concerns related to the apprentice’s industry.

The support provided to apprentices is through regular one-to-one contact by highly skilled mentors with skill sets appropriate to service the targeted cohorts. The support will particularly benefit apprentices who were previously retrenched, have experienced long-term unemployment, are mature aged, or are from regional areas.

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