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Background: AIC Basic Boarding Allowance
When introduced in 1973, the Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) scheme covered 55% of the average boarding fee to assist children in attending boarding schools to access education. However, over time and with costs increasing, the percentage covered by the AIC basic boarding allowance has been eroded over time.
Many children living in remote regions of Australia do not have adequate daily access to a physical secondary school and therefore must board away from home to attend school. Accessing compulsory schooling through boarding institutions comes at a considerable cost to geographically isolated families. Recent survey data, collected from a cross-section of ICPA members nationwide, showed that more than 75% of respondents bear out-of-pocket expenses of over $5000.00 per term just for boarding fees and essential travel. This gap is their out-of-pocket expenses after they receive the AIC Basic Boarding Allowance. That is an out-of-pocket gap of over $20,000 per year per student. These calculations do not include the additional costs of school or tuition fees. This expense is becoming increasingly unsustainable.
The disparity between the AIC Boarding Allowance and the actual cost of boarding fees across Australia continues to grow, impacting on the allowance’s intent and effectiveness. Rural and remote families are required to contribute increasingly more towards the cost of their children’s compulsory education year after year with only incremental annual increases to the allowance.
Recommendation: $4,000 increase in boarding allowance
An urgent increase to the AIC Boarding Allowance of at least $4000 to cover at least 55% of the average boarding fee followed by indexation to the CPI Sub Index: Education to truly reflect the costs of education.
Approx. 4000 geographically isolated (GI) students receiving Basic Boarding Allowance @ $9396 per annum (2023) (or cost of boarding, whichever is lower).
$4000 per annum = $16 million
Total funding allocation over forward estimates (4 years) = $64 million
For more information, financial rationale, please see linked discussion brief. ICPA Ministerial Discussion Points