History of ICPA WA

In the late 1960s families living on remote properties in Western Australia found it difficult to educate their children. Although School of the Air had commenced about ten years earlier, it was not available to all, was fraught with problems and there was no support for children with learning difficulties.

Margaret Lacy, a pastoralist from the Meekatharra district, had been trying to raise the issue through the Meekatharra P & C and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA). Finally she convinced the PGA to form an Education Sub Committee to lobby for:

  1. Free and compulsory education
  2. Subsidized hostel accommodation for post School of the Air students
  3. Provision of government hostels in regional areas
  4. Improvement to the School of the Air system for primary children.

On attending a Rural Regional Education seminar at the University of Western Australia in 1971, Margaret Lacy learned of a fledgling association, the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, which had formed in Bourke to tackle problems in isolated education in NSW.

Communication between Mrs Pat Edgley MBE and Margaret Lacy via telegram stated that permission to form a branch of ICPA in Meekatharra was “gladly granted”. The first branch of ICPA met in Meekatharra on 1st Oct 1971. ICPA WA met for the first time on Feb 8th 1972 in Perth, where some members met with the WA State Minister for Education. The word spread quickly through the pastoral grapevine and by the end of 1971 ICPA branches had formed at Carnarvon, Kalgoorlie, Yalgoo and Derby.

The inaugural state conference was held on Aug 22nd 1972 in Perth where Margaret Lacy was elected President. All five branches were represented.

In its forty year history in Western Australia, ICPA WA has lobbied for:

  • The establishment of Chidley Point Remedial Centre in 1976, a residential school for rural and remote students who were experiencing learning difficulties. When this eventually closed its doors in 1998, funds were allocated in each of the SOTAs for a specialist teacher to assist students within the schools.
  • Pre-school education for isolated children commenced in 1976.
  • The upgrading of existing correspondence courses and the establishment of an Isolated Student Matriculation Scheme for years 11 and 12. (Correspondence had previously ceased at Year 10).
  • Improvements in mail and telecommunication services.
  • The establishment of the Rotary Residential College at Kent Street SHS in 1991, which enabled hostel accommodation for isolated, gifted students.
  • The establishment of a Conveyance allowance in 1977.
  • Increases to the Boarding Away from Home Allowance.
  • Home tutor seminars commenced in 1977.
  • The establishment of the Retired Education Volunteers for Isolated Students (REVISE) in 1992.
  • Improvements to the Country Residential Colleges and access for students from non-government schools in some areas.
  • Improvements to Distance Education courses and infrastructure.

WA State Council:

Members are encouraged to nominate for council at the AGM which is held at the Annual State Conference in March each year. ICPA WA is comprised of 11 councillors: President, Vice President, Immediate past President (1 year), Secretary, Treasurer, Publicity Officer, Lones Officer, Committee (3 – 5).

Branches are encouraged to raise issues which are debated at the annual state or federal conference. Any motions which are passed by a simple majority, become the policy focus for the year. The council informs members on news concerning education within the state, as well as nationally. At the state conference, council aims to provide members with an array of relevant presentations and the opportunity to meet and network with other members, politicians and stakeholder guests.

Summary:

One of the main aims of ICPA WA is to raise awareness of the issues faced by geographically isolated parents across the remote vastness of WA, to access an equitable education for their children.  As the expectations about education continue to rise in Australia, as areas of WA decline in population and changes occur in service delivery, the work of ICPA WA continues to be every bit as relevant now, as it was back in 1972.  Your membership is important to ensure the voice of regional Western Australian families is heard.

Sources:  

Boladeras, K & Brownlie, L (2015) People Like Us, Advance Press, Bassendean

The Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association 25th Anniversary Souvenir Booklet 1972 -1997