Each year, state council meet with the Minister and Shadow Minister of Education to discuss issues relating to the education of our rural and remote children within Tasmania.
In May 2015, state President, Emily Gardner and state Treasurer, Mandy Burbury met with Colin Petitt, Secretary to the Education Department. This was a very informative meeting where discussion included a range of topics in particular the introduction of years 11 and 12 into some rural schools and the impact of this on the range of subjects on offer, the provision of subject specific teachers, information technology and online learning.
We particularly focussed on the School Bypass List to ensure this does not adversely impact on our ability to claim the AIC (Assistance for Isolated Children) or the Student Accommodation Allowance. The Minister and the Department of Education assured us that all new schools moving into year 11 and 12 will be placed on a Limited Program Schools (Bypass Schools) List.
With retention of students beyond the compulsory years of school being a huge issue in Tasmania, Colin Petitt reassured ICPA that comprehensive statistics on retention rates are currently being collected inclusive of all scenarios resulting in students leaving the public school system. The collation of these statistics will assist in the government and department’s strategy to tackle this problem.
On the 25 June, 2015, Michael Ferguson, Minister for Information Technology and Innovation reinforced the announcement from the Prime Minister, the Minister for Communications and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications that 31 mobile base stations will be built or upgraded around regional and rural Tasmania.
This is part of the Mobile Black Spot Programme, a joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Government initiative. It aims over three years, to improve handheld and external antennae coverage by installation or upgrading of base stations and will fix about 113 mobile black spots across Tasmania required for public safety, business, education and tourism.
While the funding has been granted to Telstra and Vodaphone in this round of funding, they are both obligated to allow other mobile network operators co-location rights. Further funding will be available to extend the Black Spot programme. Some of the areas in round 1 include Apslawn, Bicheno, Bothwell, Buckland, Hamilton, Highland Lakes Road, Mole Creek, Swansea and Whitefoord.
Round 2 funding will be announced in 2016. Nominations for regional black spot areas can be nominated by the public by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org