Regional families are set to feel the sting of increased education costs following the axing of a subsidy under Royalties for Regions, a move which WAFarmers says will create unsustainable regional communities.
By 2021, families will need to pay an extra $628 per child per year for boarding school fees, with fees to go up incrementally over the coming four years.
WAFarmers President Tony York said while the price hike will be gradual, the ramifications will be felt immediately by regional families.
“The Royalties for Regions Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA) subsidy was a form of financial relief for families, many of which have no choice but to have their children board during their years of secondary education,” he said.
“In the first year of this transition, an additional $157 will need to be included in the family budget for each child and while this doesn’t sound like a lot, it all adds up especially when you have multiple children boarding and the prices will continue to rise over the coming years.
“Some communities do not have a school within hundreds of kilometres from their home so the BAHA subsidy is critically important to the bottom line of the budget for many households.”
Relocation is not an option for everyone, so this change will be keenly felt.
Tony York, President, WAFarmers
Mr York said WAFarmers couldn’t help but agree with the sentiments of others who have expressed a view that the move was ‘anti-regional’.
“Living costs are rising across the state, with regional families having to take into account additional costs around transport and tuition when sending their kids to school,” he said.
“It is disappointing that these families are not only facing increased costs of living in general, but also a reduction in the BAHA.
“Relocation is not an option for everyone, so this change will be keenly felt.
“The State Government has a responsibility to develop regional communities and work towards increasing the number of people in regional centres to ensure that agriculture has a sustainable future, and unfortunately there are many people choosing to split the family up to reduce costs.
“We hope the State Government reinstates the concession so that the burden on regional families can be eased and the educational needs of their children be met as easily as possible.”