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This inquiry examined how education meets the learning needs of students in regional, rural and remote communities and how barriers in education can be overcome. The committee found that Australians growing up in regional and remote areas have lower educational attainment rates in school, in Year 12 and in tertiary education, compared to those living in metropolitan areas, and that a range of factors contribute to gaps in access and equity across a child’s education journey.

The committee was mindful that significant work is being undertaken to address the issues outlined in this report, including government responses to the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (Halsey review, 2018) and the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (Napthine review, 2019). Evidence to this inquiry supports the findings of both the Halsey and Napthine reviews, which are current, detailed and comprehensive. While noting the government accepted the findings of both the Halsey and Napthine reviews, the committee has recommended that further detail and clarity is required to show how the government is implementing the recommendations and actions proposed by these reviews.

Report structure:

The introductory chapter provides an overview of:

  • the education attainment gap between students living in regional and remote areas and those in metropolitan areas, and
  • the current policy context for education in remote and complex environments, including a discussion of recent reviews.

The remaining chapters examine the inquiry evidence across four themes:

  • Chapter two - barriers to education that are external to education systems
  • Chapter three - early childhood education
  • Chapter four - school education, and
  • Chapter five - further education and employment.

Key recommendations:

  • Ensuring all Australian students can access secondary school education, to a nationally-consistent minimum standard, regardless of their geographic location.
  • Ensuring that the education available to children and young people with disability in regional, rural and remote locations is inclusive.
  • Improving access to quality early childhood education and care in regional, rural and remote communities.
  • Providing adult literacy campaigns in communities with low levels of adult English literacy.
  • Providing up to 30 hours per week of subsidised early education and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
  • Supporting the development and professionalisation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education workforce.


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