ABSTUDY workshops presented by Indigenous Education and Boarding Australia during May will help boarding schools collect extra revenue next year, better engage with parents and communities and benefit through new scholarships in 2020.

The ABSTUDY Workshops were designed to help boarding school staff better understand the ABSTUDY system and the opportunities and benefits of the 2018 budget measures.

The workshops were delivered in Adelaide, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton/Yeppoon, Brisbane, Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

Over 200 people from all education sectors, scholarship providers, transition support service staff and Independent school peak bodies attended the workshops, which were supported by the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Human Services’ (DHS).

The workshops helped boarding schools identify over $1.8 million in ABSTUDY fees that they will now be able to collect in 2020.

The new Independent Boarding School Scholarship and the opportunity it provides to create new places for Indigenous students who previously weren’t eligible for scholarships, has excited a number of schools. This Scholarship is expected to significantly enhance the attraction and value of boarding for Indigenous students.

New Special Purpose Travel arrangements (three return trips per year) will enable boarding services to better engage with parents and communities. Strong parent engagement and support delivers better attendance and retention and delivers better educational success for their children.

One boarding school in Queensland has already organised for a parent of every Indigenous boarding student to attend the Term 1 sports day. For the first time, the students enjoyed having the parents cheer them on and the parents appreciated being part of the college life. Such connection and involvement enhances the student, parent and school staff experience and creates a foundation for ongoing engagement and desirable social and educational outcomes.

We hope to hear many similar stories by the end of 2019, as ‘special purpose travel’ enables parents and community members to attend graduations, parent-teacher interviews, cultural activities and other special days at school.

The workshops were also an opportunity for the sector to express their concerns to DSS regarding policy and to DHS about ABSTUDY processes and travel. A webinar will be scheduled for DSS & DHS to provide their responses to the issues raised by boarding schools. We will promote the webinar through email to workshop participants, newsletter subscribers and our supporters.

The fact sheets developed for the workshops are available on our website here. The presentation documents will also be uploaded soon.

Thanks to Steve Florisson for preparing the workshop material and joining in the majority of the presentations. Steve brought his expertise from many years in the sector and the knowledge from Boarding Training Australia to the workshops, he can be reached via admin@boardingtrainingaustralia.com.au or www.boardingtrainingaustralia.com.au.