Regional communities key to bridging the education gap

13-Mar-2017 7:30 AM

Regional and remote communities must speak up about the challenges children face in gaining an education outside Australia’s major cities, according to one of the country’s leading philanthropic foundations.

Welcoming the federal government’s new review into regional education, Origin Foundation Head Sean Barrett said the divide between students in metropolitan and regional Australia was well-documented – and unacceptable.
“A 15-year-old in the city is likely to be a year-and-a-half more advanced than a child in a remote area. 
“If you’re a student in the country your educational opportunity is lower and that’s not fair.” said Mr Barrett.
International data (see attached chart) shows while Australian children on the whole get a top-ten education compared with other OECD countries because of performance in the cities (yellow line), kids in provincial Australia (green line) are in the mid-range.  Those in remote areas (red line) are near the bottom.
The Origin Foundation’s focus is to support education as a pathway to a brighter future for individuals and their communities. This has given the Foundation insights into barriers faced by families and children in regional and remote communities.
“The tyranny of distance is an obvious factor, but financial support is also crucial.
“For example, we’ve seen how giving $50 vouchers to families to help get kids ready for school can make a real difference” said Mr Barrett.
The Origin Foundation funded scholarships for the entire first cohort of school principals from regional schools which last year completed a Rural Education Masters Degree at Flinders University in South Australia under Professor John Halsey, who will lead the federal government review. 
“Equipping education leaders with the skills to thrive in those settings is a crucial part to helping sustain them, and providing vibrant learning opportunities for children,” Mr Barrett said.       
According to Mr Barrett, improving educational outcomes in regional and remote areas requires innovative solutions and he says people living in those communities are the best-placed to come up with fresh ideas.
“People outside the cities know firsthand about the challenges educating children in their communities, so their views are critical to the success of this review,” said Mr Barrett
“There are first rate schools in those areas, and it is just as important they record what they are doing so others communities can learn from the experience.”
The review into regional education will begin taking public submissions in April.  Origin Foundation is encouraging rural Australians to register their views at:


Average PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) scores by location, also showing  the impact if the gap between locations was closed.
For further information please contact:
Travis McNamara
Origin Foundation
Mobile: 0467 760 066
About Origin Foundation

The Origin Foundation is a philanthropic foundation, founded by Origin Energy.  The Foundation is funded by the interest income from a $50 million investment made by Origin in 2010 to mark the 10th anniversary of the company’s listing on the Australian Securities Exchange. In addition to this, Origin also funds all of the running costs of the Foundation, ensuring that all of its income goes to community programs.
The Foundation’s focus, chosen by the people of Origin, is to support programs that use education to help break the cycle of disadvantage and empower young Australians to reach their potential.
The Origin Foundation offers support in three forms. Through a Grant Program, the Foundation provides funding to groups that share a belief in the power of education to change lives. The Foundation also provides partners with access to the time and skills of Origin people and matches donations by Origin employees to their favourite charities.
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Topic: Education

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