A nationally consistent approach to managing border restrictions for 23,000 boarding students will be referred to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).
Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education, Senator Bridget McKenzie provided State and Territory Education Ministers with a draft Code which sets out principles for States and Territories to consider when establishing their border crossing directions.
Minister McKenzie said the Code was developed following distressing accounts from families who have been separated due to COVID-related travel restrictions.
“With the ever changing situation during the pandemic, particularly with the increased threat of the Delta strain, we need to consider our arrangements to support young people, such as boarding students, while ensuring our communities remain safe,” Minister McKenzie said.
“I have received hundreds of harrowing accounts from boarding families who have been separated for extensive periods.
“Stories have included a teenager left to suffer agonising mental health issues while their families were denied permission to travel across state borders to them. I have heard of students who have, or are considering leaving school, even in years 10 or 12, because they feel they can no longer cope with the isolation and anxiety caused by being separated from their loved ones,” she said.
Particular consideration will be given to the complexities for remote Aboriginal boarding students and the needs of their communities.
“The draft principles take a clear, compassionate and practical approach to supporting boarding school students. While acknowledging the States and Territories are responsible for managing their own borders, this agreement is a win for common-sense,” Minister McKenzie said.