Your Child.Our Future. A Fair Go For Regional & Country Students

A Shorten Labor Government will invest an additional $1.8 billion in regional and country students in the 2018 and 2019 school years. This will ensure every child growing up outside our capital cities has the opportunity to achieve their best at school.


Labor believes the future success of regional students and communities relies on a strong education system that will equip students in country schools with the skills they need to get the jobs of the future.

Labor’s Your Child. Our Future policy will make sure students in regional and country schools have the same support and opportunity as their capital city peers.

Improving the educational outcomes of students in rural and remote areas is an equity issue but it also has significant implications for economic wellbeing at state and national levels.
Source: NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, Rural and remote education: Literature review, 2013, p20

Regional and country students are missing out

One in three Australians live outside our capital cities.[1] If Australia is to have a strong economic future, we need to make sure every student in regional and country Australia is equipped with the skills they will need for jobs and business.

However, recent data shows that there is a clear educational divide between regional students and their city peers. This achievement gap is larger in Australia than the OECD average.[2]

  • Regional students start school behind - More children in regional and remote areas are developmentally vulnerable or at risk when they start school compared to major cities.[3]
  • Regional students have lower NAPLAN scores - The 2014 NAPLAN tests show that across all tested year levels – Years Three, Five, Seven and Nine – students outside metropolitan areas scored lower in all tests: reading, persuasive writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation and numeracy.
  • Regional students are behind in reading, science and maths - The latest OECD Program for International Student Assessment results show:
    • Mathematical literacy – students in country schools are up to two years behind their city peers.
    • Scientific literacy – students in country schools are up to one and a half years behind their city peers.
    • Reading literacy – students in country schools are up to two years behind their city peers.[4]
  • More regional students drop out before finishing school - The 2013 Year 12 retention rates are significantly lower in regional and remote Australia than in major cities. [5]
School completion declines the further students live from metropolitan areas, and young people living in remote or very remote locations are more than 20 percentage points less likely to finish school than their metropolitan peers.
Source: NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation - Rural and remote education: Literature review, 2013, p8

Labor will support regional and country students to achieve their best

Your Child. Our Future will give regional and country schools the support they need to close the gap in educational outcomes. Regional classrooms will benefit from $1.8 billion in additional investment in the 2018 and 2019 school years alone.

Delivering the Gonski reforms on-time and in-full will make sure schools in regional and country Australia have the resources they need to:

  • Increase Year 12 retention.
  • Attract and retain specialist teachers.
  • Increase subject choices.
  • Provide allied health support – like speech and occupational therapists.
  • Support students with disability or additional learning needs.

With Labor, it doesn’t matter where a student lives, or what school they go to, they will get a great education.

Needs-based funding making a difference at Mount Isa Central State School

Mount Isa Central State School is a primary school of 227 students and 20 teachers, located in North West Queensland. Twenty-seven per cent of students have a language background other than English and 26 per cent of students are Indigenous.

Labor’s needs-based funding has meant that the school has been able to introduce targeted initiatives to improve reading, maths and attendance, including parental engagement programs and a whole school math plan.

Educators have benefited from strengthened data analysis and are able to feed this directly back into the classroom, using Targeted Teaching strategies to plan classroom lessons.

As a result, the school has increased daily attendance rates, and achieved above average gains in NAPLAN results in literacy and numeracy.

Needs-based funding is critical for continued improvement at Mount Isa Central State School.

Source: Queensland Government, Investing 4 Success, 2016

Labor’s record

In Government, Labor introduced the needs-based Gonski reforms, providing the resources needed to close the equity and achievement gaps in Australian schools.

A Shorten Labor Government is committed to reversing all of the Government’s school cuts; and will invest $36 billion more than the Liberals over the next 10 years. This includes $3.8 billion more in the 2018 and 2019 school years alone, with $1.8 billion of this outside our capital cities.

This will mean every student in every school will get the individual support and attention to achieve their best.

Labor has committed to finishing the six-year school funding agreements on-time and in-full – a $1.8 billion investment in country classrooms. We know targeted, needs-based funding is making a difference, and it is vital to improving education opportunities in regional and country Australia.

Malcolm Turnbull’s $11.7 billion cut to regional and country schools

Mr Turnbull has locked in cuts of $29 billion from Australian schools over the next 10 years. This amounts to $11.7 billion in cuts from schools in regional and country Australia.

Before the last election, the Liberals said they were on a “unity ticket” with Labor on school funding.

Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce promised:

…without a shadow of doubt, we will continue to commit to Gonski past the first term. [6]

Unfortunately, it is now clear that this was a lie.

The Liberals have ripped $11.7 billion out of regional Australian schools, and the Nationals have done absolutely nothing to stand up for country classrooms.

Regional Australia simply can’t afford these cuts – not only will regional students fall further and further behind, but our regional communities will end up falling behind as well.

The choice this election is clear: Labor will put people first and invest in our regional and country students, the Liberals will cut funding to schools to give a tax cut to millionaires and big business.

Financial Implications

Funding for the additional $1.8 billion in targeted needs-based support for regional and country students formed part of Labor’s Your Child. Our Future package announced on 28 January 2016, and is offset by Labor’s announced improvements to the Budget.

[1] Australian Institute of Family Services, Families in regional, remote and rural Australia, p2

[2] NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, Rural and remote education: Literature review, p4

[5] Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services 2015, Table 4A.192

[6] Barnaby Joyce, Northern Daily Leader, 5 September 2013.

Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton ACT 2600