Federation Chamber, March 8 2023

Dr HAINES (Indi) (09:30): I’ve spoken many times in this place about the educational challenges that young people face in rural, remote and regional Australia. Today I’ll speak on how some of our students overcome the odds.

Located in the Upper Murray, along the New South Wales-Victorian border, is Corryong College, where about 260 students attend. Today I want to speak about the 2022 cohort of Corryong year 12 students who recently graduated.

These graduates started their VCE journey amidst the Black Summer bushfires, during which some lost their homes and their school became an evacuation centre. In the wake of those devastating bushfires, before anyone had a chance to process and recover from had happened, their community was dramatically affected by the COVID lockdowns. This saw their many friends and support networks isolated for months on the other side of the closed New South Wales-Victorian border. Remote learning was truly remote for these students, their teachers and families and they had the additional burden of very poor internet.

The students rose above these challenges, and Corryong College was ranked in the top 10 best government schools for VCE results in 2022—an extraordinary result. These young people endured and overcame much trauma and still came out on top. Corryong is famous for its legends of the high country and these young people, their teachers and families are no exception. They are absolute legends.

In recognition of unique difficulties that rural students face, I draw the House’s attention to a fabulous program called the Regional Education Support Network, RESN. A few weeks ago here at Parliament House I attended a presentation from this group. RESN is a not-for-profit student network that offers rural and regional students free educational supports, such as tutoring, mentoring and access to study resources. It currently provides assistance to 1,400 students across regional Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

With me on the day of that presentation was a young volunteer from Indi, Anika Goebel, who was working in my office prior to starting university here in Canberra. She was so impressed with RESN that she immediately signed up as a volunteer tutor.

In my electorate of Indi, 450 young people have made use of this invaluable service over a four-year period, and that figure continues to grow. Amelie Walker of Mansfield successfully used the tutoring services. She is now enrolled at the University of Melbourne to complete a Bachelor of Arts. She travelled from Mansfield and is now living in Melbourne. Indi students are reaping the rewards of RESN to overcome the disadvantage they regularly face when compared to their inner-city peers. I’m so proud of the young people of Indi. I encourage students all over regional Australia to engage with the RESN program.

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