Rural Voices Gather in the City

A prominent K-12 Queensland school principal and a number of leading academics will this week attend a conference at Deakin University’s Geelong Waterfront campus to discuss the future of rural education policy in Australia.

Calen District State College and Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia (SPERA) President, Mr Brian O’Neill, will be one of several notable and passionate educators and leaders to address the two-and-a-half day SPERA conference in Geelong.

“Australia is a large country, and much of it is considered rural, regional or remote,” said Mr O’Neill.

“While significant numbers of Australians tend to live in and around capital cities and that’s where the bulk of service delivery including education occurs, there remain communities of people who live in small country towns; people who have families and need access to health care, education, the internet and so on.”

“The annual SPERA conference is an opportunity for people who are passionate about education and our rural and remote communities to come together to discuss the challenges, opportunities and innovations inherent in our day-to-day lives.”

Titled Mapping Education Policy Landscapes: Rurality and Rural Futures, conference keynote speakers will include Australian Rural Health Education Network Chair Professor Sabina Knight, Charles Darwin University Centre for School Leadership Director Mr Gary Fry, Department of Education and Training (Queensland) Director-General Dr Jim Watterson, Charles Sturt University Professor of Education Jo-Anne Reid and Victoria University College of Education Professor Marie Brennan.

The 2015 SPERA conference is supported by the Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation at Deakin University, the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education at Curtin University, the Department of Education and Training (Queensland), Teachers Mutual Bank, Regional Express (Rex), the Diocese of Toowoomba Catholic Education Office, Faculty Magazine, the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Associations (NT and QLD) and Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand.

“Through our keynotes, our book launches and paper presentations, we will share new research, ideas and perspectives and discuss some of the more recent policy announcements and potential implications for education for those of us who don’t live in a capital city,” said Mr O’Neill.

“I look forward to the national discussion that this year’s conference will initiate.”


Notes to the Editor:

The Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia (SPERA) links people with a diverse range of interests and training to promote the development of rural and remote education and training in rural and remote communities. SPERA emerged from a New South Wales in-service activity organised by Marie Dale in 1984 and has members in all Australian states and territories. The society holds a conference each year and produces regular newsletters and the Australian & International Journal of Rural Education for its members.

Media Contacts:

Mr Brian O’Neill, SPERA President – Mob: 0428 540 236, E:

Dr Susan Ledger, SPERA Vice President – Mob: 0408 080 051, E: