Education for rural families
There are many choices for education available in rural and remote areas. The information below can help you navigate the early learning years with your child.
Play is not only fun for children, it helps to further their physical, mental and social development and builds confidence. Through play, your child can also develop a love of learning.
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?
To search for child care facilities in your area, go to Child Care Finder, or for a family day care service (provided at carers’ homes), go to Family Day Care Australia.
It’s a good idea to check whether the facility is approved for the Child Care Subsidy, which is Government assistance to help with the cost of child care. Look for a National Quality Standard (NQS) rating when choosing a facility for your child.
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.
Another option is 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, supports parents to deliver a structured 60-week curriculum to help their children learn and get ready for 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?
When your child is ready for school, they are physically ready and they also have appropriate 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
Find out which schools are available in your area at the Australian Schools Directory and My School.
For those in very remote areas, distance education options are available. 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 — Remote students and parents
- 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 and cannot attend school. It operates throughout Australia, except Tasmania and the ACT. Traditionally conducted via radio, schools now use internet technology to reach their students.
Typically, the schools follows 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: September 2021