It is with a sense of great relief that the Country Women’s Association of WA (Inc) congratulates the Federal Government on their announcement to provide an $8.7 million capital grant which will save our valued Moora Residential College from closure.
We thank the State Government for accepting the grant for the college refurbishment and upgrade and its promise to meet the operational and staffing costs of about $500,000 a year going forward. Our Association will continue to closely monitor the upgrade of Moora Residential College to ensure that the allocated funds are expended in a timely manner and that there is no further threat to the future of the College.
It was also reassuring to hear that the State Government has committed to reinstate funding for Community Resource Centres throughout Western Australia. This wise decision ensures a very valuable resource continues to operate in country communities. Once again, our Association will be watching the review of the traineeships component and the audit process to ensure that the Government is “working with local businesses and local governments to get the best outcomes for trainees” and to “ensure the CRC’s are delivering the best outcomes for their communities”.
But we will continue the pressure…
This Association cares about policies not politics.
We understand that cuts and rationalisations have to be made in any Government budget. However, cutting or reducing essential services that directly and devastatingly impact the lives, livelihoods and dynamics of non-metropolitan families and communities is not the solution.
Regional and rural people should not be used as soft targets. Their voices count both in the country and in the city. In bolstering its finances by reducing or ceasing funding to established educational initiatives in country areas, the State Government continues to discriminate against families living in rural and regional Western Australia.
The WA Department of Education website states: “We want every child in Western Australia to succeed, whatever their ability, wherever they live, whatever their background.” So here is their chance to put things right.
The Association is now focussed on reversing the remaining State Government decisions:
- Taking 20% of funds contributed to the Agricultural Education Provision Trust Fund. Students at the five Agricultural Colleges in WA provide the labour that generates the on-farm profits to be used for the benefit of these Colleges and other agricultural courses. What right does the Government have to snatch this money that is intended to support agricultural education?
- Camp Schools must continue to be funded by the Department and not outsourced to other providers who may not have the unique experiences or backgrounds to understand the needs of children from isolated regions. On 13 December, 2017, Minister Sue Ellery said that these Camp Schools were “not the core business of education”. But these are not just holiday campsites – they are educational Camp Schools that benefit city, School of the Air and country children and significantly extend students’ learning and developmental experiences.
- Landsdale Farm School must continue to be funded by the Department of Education. The education and well-being of children with a disability must be a “core business of education”. The School Council should not have the burden of now seeking alternate providers to fund the remaining 50-55% normally provided by the Department of Education to keep the school open past 2018.
Rural families and communities are resourceful, innovative and resilient, but they cannot, and will not live in an area where their children are disadvantaged by lack of educational opportunities. This will result in the erosion of communities and the social, emotional and financial wellbeing of rural families. At a time when people living in rural and remote areas are considered a high-risk group for suicide, the social and geographical isolation will be further compounded.
The Association implores the government to consider the negative impact that these remaining budgetary cuts will have on the welfare of not only today’s generation of rural students, families and communities; but those of the future generations.