A national rural summit at Flinders University has generated draft recommendations across six fields of activity with the aim of enhancing the viability, sustainability and productivity of rural communities.
Among the recommendations will be the improvement of educational resources for the towns that spring up around mining operations; the summit will also urge governments to fund a program of placements in rural schools for trainee teachers in a bid to improve recruitment and retention of school staff in rural and remote areas.
Professor John Halsey, the Sidney Myer Chair of Rural Education and Communities (pictured), said 80 delegates from around Australia took part in group sessions to generate the list, responding to material from the keynote presentations and drawing on the participants’ large pool of knowledge and research.
Professor Halsey said the list of recommendations is to be fine-tuned in coming weeks, but would cover six fields of activity.
“One field is teacher and leadership preparation; the second is development of rural alliances of relevant bodies to enhance co-ordinated impact around rural issues; the third set of recommendations is around community participation and capacity-building,” he said.
“The fourth is about enhancing rural voice, to give the needs and aspirations of rural community greater prominence in public debate and national policy; the fifth field specifically focuses on policy development at all levels of government; and the sixth field is in the area of schools, learning and futures of rural community.
“Schools continue to be critical sites in rural community as institutional repositories of social and intellectual capital, and there is potential to extend and add to their role in sustaining rural communities.”
Professor Halsey said the recommendations would be issued at the end of November to an intended audience that includes businesses, rural industries, NGOs and peak bodies and as well as all tiers of government.
“We have pretty clear ideas, but we want to make sure our recommendations are rigorous and coherent,” he said.