Farmers hit by drought in remote areas of Queensland are struggling to afford sending their children to boarding school.
Queensland families in remote areas plagued by drought are pleading for extra help as they struggle to pay for the mounting cost of sending children to boarding school.
Some parents have been forced to sell up and move to regional centres, while others are opting to home school.
Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) vice president Kim Hughes says boarding costs, including travel and tuition fees, rose by about seven per cent this year, while government subsidies went up by 2.2 per cent.
“It’s desperate, people are desperate… it is time now to certainly review those allowances,” she told AAP, adding that families were appreciative of the support they did receive.
“For families who have two, three, four kids it’s a huge financial impost.
“They don’t have a choice, geographical isolation means they’re quite limited.”
Ms Hughes says it costs about $30,000 each year to send a child from a remote area to boarding school. Government allowances cover about a third of that.
At a conference in Townsville this week the ICPA again called on the government to consider increasing allowances in line with the rise in the Consumer Price Index for education.
Higher education costs are compounded by the financial burden of drought, which covers three-quarters of the state.
In an average year the Hughes’ cattle station near Richmond would boast about 12,000 head of stock but they’ve had to sell off an extra 7000 due to the drought.
Ms Hughes’ daughter Keeley, 15, attends school in Townsville and by 2016 all three of her children will be in boarding school, costing the family at least $60,000 a year.
She says it will be a stretch but they’ll be able to cope, unlike others who have sold up and moved or opted to home school.
Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek says addressing education needs of isolated families is a top priority and allowances will increase next year and continue to rise with inflation.