In June, TFFF Senior Program Manager, Katie Norman travelled to Kalkadoon and Maithakari country as a representative of Ningana Trust.
The visit included several site visits to learning and family centres in Mount Isa with sector colleagues Matthew Cox and Jill Simes from The Bryan Foundation, and Jacinta Perry from Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership. Jacinta and Katie also attended the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association Queensland State Conference in Julia Creek, an organisation Ningana Trust has supported since 2011.
Due to their geographical isolation, students in rural and remote areas often face limited access to education, technological barriers, and social and cultural considerations unique to rural life that can affect their learning opportunities. The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation that advocates for and supports the educational needs of students living in rural and remote areas, ensuring that they have equitable access to quality education.
The group began their tour in Mount Isa at the Centre for Learning and Wellbeing, known as the CLAW, where they were welcomed by representatives from the Department of Education (DoE) and local school principals. When visiting primary schools and early years places, conversations opened up around the challenges faced by children, families, and educational facilities in the area, along with information about the innovative Project 1000 and the strong partnerships that exist in Mount Isa’s early years workforce.
At Ngukuthati Family Centre, the group learnt about the significant impact of foetal alcohol syndrome, the defective playground, the value of the men’s shed, and the lack of public transport available. In Mount Isa, early learning centres are visited by LEADSmart to educate children on how to avoid lead poisoning when playing outside. In such a remote environment filled with unique challenges, the information, resources, advocacy, and support provided by ICPA Queensland are invaluable.
The ICPA Queensland State Conference is designed to provide an opportunity for government representatives, authorising stakeholders, boarding school staff and other key organisations to hear issues from those experiencing them directly. The 2023 Conference, which is in its 52nd year, had more than 100 delegates in attendance, including parents. Attendees are not only able to bring the issues they face in outback Queensland to the attention of policymakers, but also have the opportunity to foster a network of support that extends well beyond the conference.
After years advocating for an increase to the Living Away From Home Allowance Scheme (LAFHAS), success was achieved in 2023. LAFHAS is an initiative designed to support students who do not have reasonable, daily access to a school and therefore attend boarding school.
At the State Conference, the DoE’s Director General, Michael De’Ath announced that the Queensland Government would increase the LAFHAS by $4,000 in 2024 - the full amount requested by ICPA Qld. This major announcement was met with a standing ovation from delegates. Ningana Trust is pleased to support this important outcome, which will benefit 1,400 families in isolated areas of Queensland.
The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association is supported by Ningana Trust.