'ICPA needed as much now as 50 years ago'

Rural education lobby takes stock of achievements and ongoing need

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Fifty years after the Isolated Children's Parents' Association was born out of a concern for the future of rural families and the loss of educational services, current state president Louise Martin says the organisation is needed more than ever.

Fifty years after the Isolated Children's Parents' Association was born out of a concern for the future of rural families and the loss of educational services, current state president Louise Martin says the organisation is needed more than ever.

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"More and more often we see a lack of understanding of the issues we're faced with," she said. "Each year new challenges arise and we must be there for our kids."

She was one of around 300 people gathering where it all began, for Queensland's geographically isolated families, in Cunnamulla in 1971, to take stock of what had been achieved and what still needs to be done.

Marking the importance of the occasion, Governor Paul de Jersey opened the conference, the third time he has done so, saying that education was a key to a fulfilling future and maintaining the health of communities.

"Access to a quality education is not one issue but many," he said. "It's all the more important that ICPA is here to educate Queensland on the challenges."

He thanked all present for their extraordinary efforts and paid tribute to those who had sustained the organisation through five decades.

ICPA Queensland patron and life member Trish Mitchell helped set up the Augathella branch in 1973 when she was teaching her daughter Louise, now the state president, School of the Air and correspondence lessons.

"There were 70 branches across Australia - it just exploded," she said. "Word got round Australia so quickly, the need was there."

Ms Mitchell said the need was still there.

"ICPA is the only organisation that can cross over from kindy to tertiary, in all spheres," she said. "We found out last year in the pandemic how important our knowledge of home schooling was."

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She said the uptake of distance education for single subjects and the danger that had of pushing geographically isolated families to one side, showed how much ICPA was still needed.

Four state councillors - Louise Winten, Kelly Ostwald, Jessie Persse and Michelle Freshwater - stood down at the conference but the organisation has a full complement for its upcoming year.

They include new secretary Annette Boyle, lone members branch, and councillors Megan Easton, Richmond, Anneli Day, Clarke Creek, Diane Miekle, Capricornia BOTA, Loretta Goodwin, Alpha, and Jocelyn Freeman, Talwood.

The 2022 conference will be hosted by the Blackall branch, which was the venue for ICPA Queensland's first four conferences, and Julia Creek will host the 2023 conference.

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