Australia’s first Regional Education Commissioner is the Hon Fiona Nash.
Ms Nash has a deep love for regional Australia and an enduring interest in regional education, with strong links to the education sector. She is a champion for regional, rural and remote education, working with stakeholders and governments across sectors so all Australians can access a high-quality education, regardless of where they live.
Participation, attainment and completion in all levels of education can be more difficult the further you travel from major cities. As Commissioner, Ms Nash aims to bridge this gap and address the disparity in education outcomes.
Her broad remit to improve regional education from early childhood education to tertiary education means she can provide a national focus and direction for regional education.
Ms Nash has previously represented New South Wales in the Senate from 2004 to 2017, holding several ministerial roles including Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Regional Communications and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education.
On 16 November 2022, the Government announced a panel of eminent Australians to develop the Australian Universities Accord and undertake a broad review of the higher education system. This panel includes Ms Nash, in her capacity as Regional Education Commissioner, to ensure the voice of regional students, communities, industry and institutions are heard.
The role of Commissioner was established in response to recommendations of the 2018 Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (Halsey Review) and the 2019 National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (Napthine Review).
The Commissioner supports the implementation of the Napthine and Halsey Reviews through partnerships and coordinated efforts across governments, local communities, education providers and employers.
In addition to implementing and monitoring progress of the Napthine and Halsey Reviews, the Commissioner oversees and coordinates cross‑sector research projects to identify and set future policy directions. These projects explore areas identified by the Napthine Review such as student support services, geographical classification, internet access and affordability, Year 12 retention and career mapping for rural, regional and remote students.
She works closely with regional communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, education providers, industry, state and territory governments and other relevant stakeholders.
Ms Nash works in close consultation with the National Rural Health Commissioner and the National Careers Institute, as well as participating in relevant community consultations, forums and events on regional education.
Ms Nash will report annually to the Minister for Education on the state of regional, rural and remote education.
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference outline the duties, responsibilities and deliverables of the Commissioner.
Guiding vision and principles
Ms Nash’s vision for the Regional Education Commissioner role is:
'That all people in rural, regional and remote Australia, regardless of where they live, can access the education they need to reach their full potential.'
Ms Nash is guided by the below set of principles to support her vision:
- I will be an independent champion for the education needs of rural, regional and remote people, from cradle to career.
- Everything I do stems from the principle ‘regional Australia is a great place to live, study and work’.
- My enduring purpose in this role will always be to drive the creation and promotion of education opportunities for regional people so they are supported with genuine career choices that, in turn, build regional prosperity now and for the future.
- I am committed to providing regional people with the information and opportunities they need to have choices, believe in themselves and make informed decisions on education.
- I will work in partnership with regional communities to grow and enjoy education opportunities.
- I will champion successes, and seek to build on them, no matter the size.
The Australian Universities Accord
On 16 November 2022, the Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education, appointed Ms Nash to a Panel of experts to develop the Australian Universities Accord, chaired by Professor Mary O'Kane AC.
The Accord is an opportunity to build and implement a new vision for Australia's universities and higher education sector. Access and Opportunity, key concerns of the Regional Education Commissioner, are one of the seven priority areas in the Accord terms of reference, including barriers and opportunities, and pathways through education. Ms Nash brings her knowledge of the experiences of people in regional Australia accessing education from early childhood to career.
National School Reform Agreement Ministerial Reference Group
On 1 May 2023, the Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education, announced the members of the National School Reform Agreement Ministerial Reference Group, including Ms Nash, who will bring her cross-sector expertise in regional education and commitment to improving education outcomes for people from regional Australia to the role.
"The Reference Group will act as a sounding board and source of advice to the Expert Panel announced in March, led by Dr Lisa O'Brien AM, that will advise Education Ministers on the specific reforms that should be tied to funding in the next National School Reform Agreement."
About the Secretariat
The Commissioner is supported by a policy secretariat within the Higher Education Division of the Department of Education.
Contact the Secretariat
Reports, Reviews, Resources and Media
Research and Reports
- Research into support services for tertiary students in RRR areas: Final Report
- Research into support services for tertiary students in RRR areas: Good Practice Framework
- Report on VET Delivered to Secondary Students: Investigating the provision of VET to secondary students in regional, rural, and remote areas, 2023
- National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy
- Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education
- Quality Initial Teacher Education Review
- National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy
Resources and links
- My School
- School Leavers Information Kit | Your Career
- Services Australia
- Good Universities Guide
- National Careers Institute
- National Skills Commissioner
- Rural Health Commissioner