Outback families struggle to pay for remote education

Outback families struggle to pay for remote education

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Governesses help outback kids with their primary education, through remote learning, and the support of Katherine School of the Air.

Governesses help outback kids with their primary education, through remote learning, and the support of Katherine School of the Air.

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A pastoral leader wants the federal government to help outback families pay for governesses to help with their children's education.

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A pastoral leader wants the federal government to help outback families pay for governesses to help with their children's education.

Justin Dyer, the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association's Katherine branch chairman, said governesses are more like teacher's aides, helping support school of the air lessons for their children.

"I cannot for the life of me find a decent reason why the cost burden for these critical teachers continues to be put with the parents of children living in isolation," Mr Dyer said.

Mr Dyer was invited to address the Isolated Children's Parents' Association in Katherine last month which included local Arnhem MLA and NT Education Minister Selena Uibo as a guest.

Mr Dyer said no-one else in Australia was expected to pay for their childrens' primary education, and why should outback families?

"Governesses, travel and accommodation in town for school are a cost that we should not be expected to cover," he said.

Justin Dyer, the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association's Katherine branch chairman, said governesses are more like teacher's aides.

Justin Dyer, the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association's Katherine branch chairman, said governesses are more like teacher's aides.

"Regional families are some of the hardest working and productive people around, they contribute significantly to not only the export dollars and economy of Australia and the NT but to the social fabric of the communities we support.

"We keep it real, and I think it is time that it is recognised by all levels of government that our kids need a fair crack at a decent and affordable education."

He suggested the NTCA and ICPA should work together to lobby for better access to education for outback children.

Justin Dyer lives on Hayfield Station, bisected by the Stuart Highway midway between Katherine and Tennant Creek.

His parents moved there in 1974, sister Lisa and partner Brad run Sturt Plains on the southern end of Hayfield.

Justin and Sally run the northern section of Hayfield and the Shenandoah lease.

His brother Nick and his wife Kathy operate Helimuster NT out of a hanger in Katherine and Victoria River Downs Station.

All three children enjoyed their early education through Katherine School of the Air.

"Our classroom had not only the Dyer kids but several of the local Aboriginal children from Elliott attended who were children of some of the staff that worked at Hayfield," he said.

"We always had a governess and mum used to fill in when we were in-between governesses who were prone to float for various reasons."

He said boarding was the only option for outback kids to complete secondary schooling and they completed their high school in Adelaide and Justin completed tertiary education in Victoria.

"I am here to assure you that it was far from easy and that the challenges faced by pastoral station families at that time were vast and compounding.

"A lot of those challenges we are still facing today and frankly the list is getting bigger.

"Even though I believe the future is bright we need to be able to attract as much talent to the fold as we can, and having equitable access to a decent education is a deal breaker for many.

"Every child born in this great country has a right to have access to free primary education, that includes costs associated with delivering that."

The story Outback families struggle to pay for remote education first appeared on Katherine Times.

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