A new policy launched by The Nationals WA today will more than double the Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA) if they form government in 2021.
The BAHA commitment announced by Leader Mia Davies will increase payments to $3132 per eligible student from 2022 and be indexed to CPI year on year thereafter.
Ms Davies said The Nationals’ policy means students who live at state residential boarding facilities and are eligible for the full suite of federal and state subsidies would no longer have a gap in their accommodation fees.
“We believe all students, no matter where they live, deserve the right to access a good education,” she said.
“The only option for many families living in remote and regional WA is to send their children away to learn because there either aren’t schools available locally or they are required to attend schools offering special educational needs.
“Our plan to restore and increase BAHA payments will make it easier for those families to access quality education for their children by reducing out-of-pocket accommodation costs.”
In 2010 The Nationals WA increased annual BAHA payments from $1320 to $2105 per student through a $5.5 million Royalties for Regions investment.
However, in 2017 the McGowan Government announced it would wind back the RfR component, reducing BAHA payments to $1320 by 2022, impacting more than 1800 primary and secondary aged students.
Education spokesperson Peter Rundle said The Nationals WA policy would invest $16.8 million of RfR over five years to reduce the challenge and inequity faced by regional families trying to access appropriate schooling.
This funding commitment comes on top of almost $1 million to account for indexation and just over $12 million of existing Department of Education funding for the program.
“Under our proposal, if a student attends a State residential boarding college and they are eligible for the full suite of subsidies, there should be no gap in fees paid,” Mr Rundle said.
“In contrast to the McGowan Government, our party is focused on improving access to education and learning outcomes for those not living in convenient proximity to a school suitable for their children.
“Attending a residential college is not a luxury for many families, it is a reality and we should be making it easier, not more difficult, for our rural and remote kids to be educated.”