The Hon Fiona Nash has been appointed as Australia’s first Regional Education Commissioner and will oversee implementation of recommendations from the National Regional, Rural and Remote Tertiary Education Strategy (the Napthine Review).
Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie congratulated Ms Nash on her appointment.
“Fiona has a deep love for regional Australia and a strong understanding of the education sector, and I know she will advocate fiercely on behalf of students who live and study in these areas.
“I know Fiona is committed to driving implementation of the recommendations from the Napthine Review, and will work to reduce the disparity between city and country students, particularly in relation to education participation and attainment.
“The role of the Commissioner will bring a national focus and direction for regional and remote education and champion the educational needs of students in regional communities.
“This will include advocating for the improvement of education policies spanning early childhood education and care, schools, and tertiary education to better support regional, rural and remote students.
“As part of the Liberal and Nationals government’s wider regionalisation agenda we want to see more people living in rural and regional Australia and this includes providing students with the best educational pathways.”
Ms Nash said she welcomed the opportunity to work with governments at all levels as well as peak education organisations and regional and remote communities to improve educational outcomes for students.
“The Napthine Review identified country Australians are less than half as likely to obtain a university degree by the age of 35, compared to those in our cities,” Ms Nash said.
“There are many factors that contribute to this gap, and I welcome the opportunity to work to ensure every Australian has the option to access and benefit from a high-quality education, regardless of where they live.”
Ms Nash has been appointed initially for a three year term and will report annually on the progress of implementing the recommendations of the Napthine Review, and provide advice on regional education policy issues.
Since 2018, Ms Nash has been the Strategic Advisor, Regional Engagement and Government Relations at Charles Sturt University, and was a Director of the NSW Skills Board in 2021.
The Australian Government has committed $6 million over four years to establish the role and to undertake a range of projects to significantly improve regional education outcomes by 2030.