Queensland’s independent schooling sector has welcomed $10 million in federal Special Circumstances education funding to assist non-government school communities impacted by the nation’s record-breaking drought.
The support package also includes $5 million for Community Child Care assistance.
Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) Executive Director David Robertson said Queensland independent schools serving drought-ravaged communities were providing record levels of support to families in the form of tuition and boarding fee remissions and counselling support.
“Independent schools have been working closely with families and doing what they can to maintain the continuity of their children’s education and to provide ongoing counselling and wellbeing support,” he said.
“However, with weather forecasts showing continuing dry, hot conditions through the summer months and independent schools receiving more requests for assistance, the current situation is unsustainable.”
Mr Robertson thanked Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan for his proactive approach to recognising the needs of schools enrolling students from drought-impacted areas.
He said ISQ put forward a case to the Australian Government for emergency education support for these families as well as those parents who are battling on quietly, too proud to seek help from their schools.
“Minister Tehan and the Australian Government have again listened to the needs of Queensland school families, as they did after the devastating North Queensland floods, and have responded with compassion and welcome funding relief.”
Queensland Independent Schools Parents Network Executive Officer Sue Kloeden said the support can’t come soon enough for some families, particularly ahead of the Christmas holiday season.
Ms Kloeden said the drought was taking a toll on many families.
“Some boarding schools have reported that parents have been visiting their children less while other families have been forced to split up with mum moving to town to access schooling for their children while dad remains on the farm,” she said.
“Children are also feeling the strain because they can see how hard it is for their parents.”
The independent sector is the largest provider of boarding services in Queensland. There are currently more than 3,300 boarders living away from home at 33 independent schools. For some families, there is no other education option in their hometown. In addition, there are 44 independent schools with 17,000 students in drought-declared areas of Queensland.