Bush kids deserve choice in education: Katter

Jun 9, 2023

The news that the Palaszczuk Labor Government will increase the Living Away From Home Allowances Scheme (LAFHAS), up $4,000 in 2024, has been welcomed by outback politician Robbie Katter.

But the Traeger MP, who leads Katter’s Australian Party (KAP), said more still needed to be done to keep rural and remote kids in their hometowns for as long as possible.

“I very much congratulate the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) on their dogged advocacy over this issue in recent months,” he said.

“They have really worked to get this payment increase over the line and it is a relief to see the Queensland Government has heeded their calls.

“Thank you must go to the State’s Education Minister, Grace Grace, who took the time to listen and provide this much-needed extra support.

“The second you step away from the coast, the adversity increases rapidly and our rural and remote families – particularly on stations – are on the front lines of these challenges.

“While agriculturalists keep our state’s economy running and many of us fed, the least the government can do is ensure they and their families are supported and provided the best access as possible to essential services like education.”

Mr Katter said while attending boarding school away from home – which triggers access to the LAFHAS – was a rite of passage and important experience for many outback kids, it shouldn’t be the only choice.

The Mount Isa-based MP was currently putting the finishing touches on his Education (Extension of Primary Schools in Remote Areas) Amendment Bill 2023, which would place an onus on the Education Minister to ensure state schooling up to Year 10 was provided in all rural communities where there was community demand.

The Bill would seek to extend, upon community request through local councils, the offering of the 104 existing remote primary schools where a state high school did not exist.

To do this, it establishes a legal mechanism that, upon receiving a written request from the local council, the Education Minister is obligated to either extend the offering of an existing primary school or establish a “learning facility” that offers Years 7-10 students a centralised space and a teacher’s aide to complete their schooling through a distance education provider.

Mr Katter said the Bill would be introduced into the Queensland Parliament in the coming months, and he encouraged any community feedback in the meantime.