December 1 might be regarded by most as the first day of summer, or even National Eat a Red Apple Day, but for the Isolated Children's Parents' Association it has become Geographically Isolated Distance Education Day.
The education lobby group would like to see it not just embedded nationally as a way to honour the home tutors in classrooms across remote Australia for their ongoing commitment, but given financial recognition by the federal government as well.
ICPA Australia's new initiative revolves around the heightened awareness of the challenges of educating children at home that the COVID-19 pandemic brought.
In calling on the federal government to formally recognise the role that parents play in distance education, it highlights Prime Minister Scott Morrison's appeal to states to reopen schools after the Easter break when he said "the education of our children hangs in the balance".
He urged schools not to force parents into a decision between home schooling their children and "putting food on the table" as education departments moved towards online learning from home to maximise physical distancing, and keeping parents at home to supervise that.
As ICPA Australia federal president Alana Moller explained, geographically isolated distance education families had dedicated themselves to educating their children at home full-time, which needed to be recognised and lauded.
"The day recognises and honours the ongoing plight of geographically isolated families who must educate their children at home at all times," she said.
"The pandemic has also validated the necessity of an adult tutor to be available to assist and supervise students while they participate in online learning and learning from home.
"That has drawn attention to the commitment, responsibility, time and financial impost required to facilitate children's full-time learning in the home environment."
It's the full-time support of lessons on a daily basis, supervised by a tutor in the classroom, that distance education to geographically isolated children is founded on.
Ms Moller said however, there was no recognition of the essential role this person plays in the success of geographically isolated education, nor the implications and costs associated with providing this person for families.
"There is an urgent need to support those families for who, due to the tyranny of distance, this form of educational delivery is a full-time commitment," she said. "ICPA Australia calls on the federal government to recognise and provide extra financial support to assist the approximately 1500 families this affects."
Its research has shown there are over 4000 students from approximately 1500 distance education classrooms across Australia for whom access to schooling is limited to this mode of educational delivery as a result of geographical isolation.
The story National day for distance education launched by ICPA first appeared on Queensland Country Life.