The department is pleased to announce the Hon Fiona Nash has been appointed as Australia’s first Regional Education Commissioner.
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Why is the Government appointing a Regional Education Commissioner?
The appointment of the Commissioner responds to recommendations in the Napthine and Halsey Reviews calling for a national, sustained focus on the progress and outcomes of regional tertiary education initiatives.
The Napthine Review found individuals living in regional and remote locations are less than half as likely as their city counterparts to obtain a university degree by the age of 35.
As a national figure working with all tiers of government and across the educational sectors, the Commissioner can bring together the efforts of Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to provide an ongoing national focus on regional, rural and remote education outcomes.
The independent nature of the Commissioner allows Ms Nash to engage widely and bridge the educational gaps between city and country students, particularly in relation to education participation and attainment.
What research projects will the Commissioner lead?
The Commissioner will oversee and drive a series of cross-sector research projects whose outcomes will inform the future work of the Commissioner and regional education policy. Initial projects respond to recommendations of the Napthine Review and include:
- an education specific regional and remote geographical classification tool
- mapping existing regional and remote tertiary access programs in schools
- investigate effective interventions to retain regional and remote students to Year 12
- investigating the internet requirements of regional, rural and remote tertiary students and how to best support students to deliver access to reliable, affordable internet services to meet their needs
- improving regional and remote student support services.
How was the Commissioner selected?
The role was advertised nationally as part of an open merit-based search in mid-2021.
An independent selection panel chaired by the Hon Dr Denis Napthine AO, former Premier of Victoria, and author of the Napthine Review interviewed shortlisted candidates and recommended a preferred candidate to Government.
Former Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education appointed Ms Nash for an initial three-year term in December 2021.
How much funding has been provided?
The Australian Government has committed $6 million over four years to establish the role and to fund several research projects to significantly improve regional education outcomes by 2030.