The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) welcomes the establishment of the role of Rural Education Commissioner and congratulates the Hon Fiona Nash on her inaugural appointment.
‘AHISA is delighted that the Commissioner’s role will span all stages of young people’s learning journeys, including early childhood education and care, schooling and tertiary education,’ said AHISA CEO, Ms Beth Blackwood.
‘Commissioner Nash has a formidable evidence base to draw on to inform her work,’ said Ms Blackwood. ‘The Halsey review of education in regional, rural and remote areas, the Napthine national strategy consultation on regional, rural and remote education and the federal Parliamentary review of education in remote and complex environments have all contributed to our understanding of the challenges to education provision in regional and remote areas and offered possible approaches to overcome those challenges.’
AHISA made submissions to all three inquiries, presenting data compiled from surveys of its members who lead schools in regional or remote areas or who lead schools with boarding provision for students from regional or remote areas.
‘We hope the creation of the Commissioner’s role will support a collaborative focus on regional and remote issues,’ said Ms Blackwood. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital connectivity in education provision in non-metropolitan areas, and we know from our member surveys that access to health services – including mental health supports – for both students and teaching staff is a challenge that affects student achievement and recruitment and retention of staff in regional and remote areas.’
Ms Blackwood said that liaison with all levels of government and across government and non-government service providers is expected to be a significant component of the Commissioner’s work.
‘The Commissioner’s role is a very important one, and a great opportunity to improve outcomes for students in regional, rural and remote areas,’ said Ms Blackwood. ‘AHISA wishes Commissioner Nash all the very best in this vital work.’