ICPA SA September 2017 Delegation
Posted on October 10, 2017
Delegation meeting with the Hon. Susan Close, Minister for Education and Jenny Sommer (DECD).
Day one we met at a café to discuss our plan of action, issues to raise and some much-needed coffee to start us off for the day. All four of us were able to meet with Karen Humphries, Assistant Director of Business Services, DECD. We had met with her in previous years so a familiar face is always nice to start our delegation off. We discussed the Car Travel Allowance. Currently, 900 families are in receipt of this within SA so even a small price increase is a costly one. We looked at possible price increases and learned a bit about this allowance, as now it is increased with CPI, which wasn’t the case in earlier years.
We discussed the SEA (State Education Allowance) and thanked DECD for the increase that was given to families. We discussed the fact that currently this allowance is only paid to families that are in receipt of the AIC Boarding Allowance and could it be changed to include the Second Home Allowance families. Karen was unaware of this and much discussion was held regarding how the SEA Allowance first evolved and why it is with the Transport Unit. ICPA and DECD are going to do some ‘digging’ to find out where and how this allowance first started. Since it is currently with the Transport Unit there is not very much leeway to increase the allowance. We felt that this meeting was very useful and Karen had given us some excellent ways to approach DECD and the Minister with our motions for the future.
Next, we were off to Parliament House to meet with the Hon Susan Close, Minister for Education. The excitement and nerve levels always increase when entering Parliament House and especially when meeting with the Minster, a quick lip gloss reapply and we were ready! We only had 30 minutes with Minister Close, so we had to choose our words carefully. We discussed the SEA Allowance being paid to Second Home Allowance Families. This discussion went really well and we felt that she had an empathy for families that were in this situation. We also spoke about the many challenges of distance education for home supervisors.
Other motions discussed were:
- Increasing the car allowance rate when transporting children to and from school daily (the rate is currently just 22c per km).
- Support to extend the working holiday-maker visa from 6 to 12 months. This is a Federal Issue but SA needs to get behind this to encourage change at a Federal level.
- Continued funding assurance for the Remote and Isolated Children’s Exercise (RICE) under the Budget Based Funding model. Minister Close had just had talks regarding this issue and she feels that RICE is secure.
- Early identification and intervention for learning difficulties. This topic is in the forefront of many of the Minister’s discussions and we hope to see some positive changes in all schools.
Minister Close is always very empathetic when listening to ICPA and what our issues are. We all went away with a positive vibe from this meeting.
We had a quick chance to refresh at the bar and be back to Parliament House for dinner with Dan VHP and his wife Rebecca. This is always a highlight of the Delegation, for a few reasons; the food is all produce from SA, so we dined on Kangaroo Island Haloumi, Coffin Bay oysters and Golden North Fruchoc ice-cream. The service is fabulous and for once we didn’t have to prepare, serve or wash up. And they keep topping your champagne glass up!
The second day was back to reality and more meetings after dinner at Parliament House. On the second day, we had Kerry, Lisa and Jill attend the meetings. First up we met with Julie Taylor, Executive Principal OAC. Points of discussion were opening of the Moodle for parents and Supervisors, Early Identification and Intervention for Learning Difficulties, Learning Technology Support and Daymap – feedback and Work Returns. We had a lengthy discussion on many of these topics. We also discussed issues in attracting and retaining good quality staff, and some alternative options for supporting staff, students and families in the future.
We left OAC feeling positive that our discussions with Julie had been productive and constructive. Our final meeting was at Parliament House with Dan VHP, Shadow Minister for Education John Gardner and their advisors. In this meeting, we talked about the issues that we had discussed in the other meetings that we had over the two days. The Shadow Minister was eager to listen and suggest ways that his govt may be able to make changes. The siren alerted for a vote on the parliament floor so we immediately lost most of our captive audience but we were then joined by the Hon John Dawkins as he popped in to say hello. He is a strong supporter of ICPA and how we professionally advocate and lobby for our children’s education.
It was time to say our goodbyes and each head for home. It is always a huge commitment to attend an ICPA Delegation but after I have attended, I always come away with extra motivation to fight for our children’s education.