A recent meeting between WAFarmers and the Minister for Education Sue Ellery to discuss ongoing regional education issues has been described as “constructive” and “collaborative”.
WAFarmers met with the Minister to discuss the proposed closure of the Moora Residential College and Department of Education camp facilities, the redirection of funds from the Agricultural Education Provisions Trust and the perceived decline of agricultural education within the department.
“It was our intention to seek clarity on these issues during the meeting and really drive home how these changes will impact regional students, families and communities. We are pleased to have come away with a renewed hope for the future of agricultural education in WA,” Mr Kensett-Smith said.
“With the closure of Moora Residential College, there were concerns that it would result in a downgrade from a Senior High School status, but the Minister confirmed that there are no plans at present to support this.
“The Minister also confirmed that she was seeking more information on what the minimum requirements would be for the State Government to keep Moora Residential College open, up to code, and operational, so the door is not yet completely closed on this issue.
“The 20 per cent redirection of the Agricultural Education Provisions Trust is tied to the current State Budget; WAFarmers will further advocate for this redirection to be limited to the budget repair period.
“Further, in the event of a season failure for multiple agricultural colleges, applications can be made to Minister Ellery for extra funding.
“Finally, the government aims to have a contractual assurance in place for the Department of Education camp facilities stating that whoever runs the sites would maintain affordability to regional students, and would prioritise the use of the facilities for schools over other groups.”
Mr Kensett-Smith said the Minister was keen to work collaboratively with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to bolster agricultural education services across WA, and expressed a desire to seek WAFarmers’ input.
“Minister Ellery said she had already had preliminary discussions with Minister MacTiernan about bridging the gap and seeking a more collaborative approach between the portfolios to achieve better outcomes for students and their communities,” Mr Kensett-Smith said.
“This is a very positive sign for agricultural education in WA, and we look forward to being part of this important process.”