Education in rural areas is diverse, with a range of facilities available. Many parents want advice on what to look for when choosing a place for their child’s care or education. The information below can help you navigate the early learning years with your child.
Growing up in the country can offer many benefits, but may also have some pitfalls. One of the main issues to deal can be distance, not only from health care and other general services but also from childcare and education. For those in very remote areas, distance education options are available.
Playgroups are a great way to network with other parents while fostering your child's social development.
To see if there is one available in your area, go to Playgroup Australia and click on the link for your state.
How do I find the best child care or early learning program for my child?
The government has developed criteria to ensure the same standard of care at early childhood facilities throughout Australia. Look for a National Quality Standard (NQS) rating when choosing a facility for your child.
Early education facilities (such as preschools) use a learning framework developed by the government. Go to the Early Years Learning Framework for further information.
To search for child care facilities in your area, including Child Care Benefit (CCB) approved facilities, and NQS ratings, where available, go to Child Care Finder, or for a family day care service (provided at carers’ homes), Family Day Care Australia.
Alternatively, for free advice to help you find a child care service to suit your needs, phone the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305.
Families can also participate in a home-based early education program called HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters). This free program, starting the year before your child begins school, empowers parents to participate in their child’s learning and eases the transition to school.
Find out if your town has a HIPPY site at HIPPY Australia.
Financial support for childcare
Families may be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy or other financial aid. There are special payments for disadvantaged farming or isolated families.
See Payments for Families for more information.
Is my child ready for school?
Whether or not your child is ready for school is determined by a number of factors besides your child’s age, including their physical motor co-ordination, and also language, communication and social skills.
If you are unsure whether your child is ready for school, talk to your child's preschool teacher, their future primary school teacher, a child and family health nurse or your child’s doctor.
You can also read about school readiness at Early Childhood Australia. This is a website with information for parents, including suggestions for getting your child off to a good start at school.
Finding a school
For very remote regions of Australia where it is not possible for children to attend school, there are distance education programs and schools of the air. These programs, which are offered through the education departments of state and territory governments, allow children of all ages to receive an education.
Find out about what education options are available in your state or territory:
- Northern Territory — Distance Learning
- New South Wales — Rural and Distance Education
- Queensland — Rural and remote education
- South Australia — External Education
- Tasmania — Tasmanian eSchool
- Victoria — Virtual School Victoria
- Western Australia — School of Isolated and Distance Education
School of the Air
School of the Air is available for children who live in remote locations that make it impossible for them to attend school. They operate throughout Australia, except Tasmania and the ACT. Traditionally conducted via radio, schools now use internet technology to reach their students.
Typically the schools run in line with the established school terms and start with kindergarten through to year 9 or 10.
Contact your state or territory department of education to find an option to suit your family’s needs.
Parents also have the option to home school their children. Education is compulsory for all Australian children, so if you do decide to home school your child, you must register with the education department in your state or territory.
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Last reviewed: July 2019