Remote and Isolated Children's Exercise


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (17:53): I rise to take the opportunity to speak about RICE. Now, RICE, in the electorates of Stuart and Giles and many other parts of our state, refers to Remote and Isolated Children's Exercise, which is an absolutely outstanding organisation that works primarily through remote South Australia. It has its base in Port Augusta, and it does a wonderful job. I recently had the opportunity to meet with the president of RICE, Ms Gillian Fennell, treasurer Ms Shane Rowe, executive officer Mr Rob Kay, and one of their very important staff members Ms Robyn Rosenzweig, who works primarily in the delivery of preschool programs.

While it is an organisation that I have been familiar with for a very long time, in fact when I lived in the outback I was very pleased to sponsor RICE one year with a fundraising event that we ran at Glendambo, I wanted to share some information about RICE (Remote and Isolated Children's Exercise) with members of this house.

They work throughout outback areas with families specifically looking after children from birth to age 12. They would like to extend that from zero up to age 18 but they need DECD approval to do that. The work they do is exceptionally important. They work with families who are home-educating. As people here, I hope, understand, School of the Air is exceptionally important (run through Open Access College at Marden); and the responsibility for educating kids and participating in those programs, whether they be for young kids with RICE or older kids with SOTA (School of the Air), falls on the families, typically on mums. A fortunate family is able to hire a governess but, usually, it is the mothers who take an enormous amount of responsibility. I really do commend those families who do this for their children. Nobody else could do it. I commend the staff of RICE as well and also the other people who volunteer their time for RICE.

They raised some very important issues with me when I was there. Roads, of course, are terribly important. RICE, while they are based in Port Augusta and deliver programs at a range of community events, also visit homes all over remote South Australia, so they need roads to get there. They have a very important health program that they deliver in addition to preschool and other education programs. They have a nurse focused on mothering and children exclusively. They visit homes and travel enormous numbers of kilometres to do so for these families. They deliver an enormous amount of programs in-home and also at community events, whether they be races, a field day or some other local gathering. RICE will come along and put on programs because they know the families are coming so they know that the kids are coming.

A big concern they have is about funding, as you would expect. They receive 21 per cent of their funding from the state and, of course, they would like to have more. The vast majority (65 per cent) comes from the federal government. They are also looking for far greater formalised links with the Department for Education and Child Development. For example, they would like for RICE staff to fall under the DECD banner, as opposed to being seconded as they currently are from DECD. They would like, for example, to have access to the DECD EduConnect system which is available everywhere else (it is available to School of the Air) but not available to RICE, and it would be very helpful for them. They would like some support with regard to a home tutor allowance, which would be a two to three week per year support program for families who need it.

They really would like to have a much greater, closer working relationship with the Department for Education and Child Development than they currently have. To me, this seems exceptionally fair and reasonable. The Department for Education and Child Development focuses an enormous amount of effort and resources on early childhood development throughout our state. They are intimately involved with childhood development throughout metropolitan areas—at every level they get involved—but not in outback areas. It is not until a child starts to participate in School of the Air that they are getting into an official South Australian government department program with regard to education and child development. So the people of RICE earnestly seek this from the government.


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