NEWLY-recognised Isolated Children's Parents' Association federal life membership honouree Patricia Mitchell says the role of the organisation is just as relevant in modern times as it was in its early days.
Ms Mitchell, Cloncurry, Qld, who was honoured at the federal conference in Adelaide last week, has been involved with ICPA for 46 of its 48 years, including forming two branches - Augathella, Qld, and Charleville School of the Air, Qld, and serving as the first female Qld state and federal president - 18 months concurrently.
She said the early success of ICPA, which had 70 branches formed within the first two years, was evident of the concern people in rural Australia had about the future for their children.
"In a changing world, education would be a key factor in the choices children would need to make about their futures," he said.
She said drought and fluctuating commodity prices put constraints on parent's ability to provide that education, which "all sounds strikingly familiar" to conditions in parts of Australia at present.
"The policy battles fought by ICPA then and since have had some outstanding successes, some failures and others have seemingly become wars of attrition," she said.
She said the "first huge success" was in 1973, less than two years after ICPA was formed, when the federal government introduced the Assistance for Isolated Children, which set the foundation for many other wins.
But she said there were also battles still to be fought with agenda item one from her first federal conference, the fourth held, calling for allowances to be raised in line with rising boarding school costs, also appearing as agenda item this year.
"In a country where education is compulsory and supposedly free, it has been an ongoing struggle ever since to maintain this recognition and to keep the value of the allowances relevant," she said.
"ICPA is an necessary today as it ever has been."
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