The future of the Central West requires investment and leadership in education beyond just the agriculture sector
“It is disheartening and disappointing to see the closure of Longreach Pastoral College, which in its prime was a successful rural educational facility. But we must get to work on securing the right combination of interested parties to work together to deliver an educational service that meets the needs of our community and supports the region to diversify economically and grow,” - Rob Chandler, RAPAD Chair.
The regional organisation of councils in central western Queensland (RAPAD) says the future prosperity of the area will be greatly dependent the next steps taken in determining the future of the Longreach Pastoral College.
The seven mayors of the Central West have met to consider the Coaldrake Report into the future of vocational education, training and skilling in Central Western Queensland, which included recommendations for the Remote Area Planning and Development board to take a leadership role.
RAPAD Chair, Rob Chandler says the announcement of the Longreach Pastoral College’s closure at the end of 2019 was swift and hard however the need now is for the region to come together and turn this situation into an opportunity.
“This is their report, they’ve made the hard call, now work with us to reinvigorate VET and skilling in the region, across all sectors, not just agriculture,” Councillor Chandler said.
“We need the VET sector to support what we have right now – tourism, agriculture, community services, civil and construction, aged care - then watch it grow and expand.
“But limiting the potential of the LPC to traditional industries misses a great opportunity to economically diversify the area and boost the regions resilience,” he said.
RAPAD has already engaged the international drone community and is working with renewable energy leaders; we know opportunities for training in new technologies and innovation across local government, agriculture and tourism all exist here.
RAPAD is ready, willing and able to step in and work proactively with state government to be part of the solution immediately, and the Chairman will be seeking immediate meetings with the Premier and Ministers.
We are calling on the government to outline the process going forward and disclose what discussions have been held
“We need a long-term commitment that this will be a genuine success focused transition not a 12 month hand-over and then a hand-washing,” Councillor Chandler said.
Cr Chandler said there were a lot of great ideas now coming forward, some of which have laid dormant for many years such as partnering with a University/s, a Rangelands Institute, international students for LSHS, agri-innovation.
“Our counterparts at Desert Channels Queensland have vast experience in natural resource management and pest animal and weed control. We are at the tip of an iceberg of training and skilling opportunities, but the Government needs to come with us,” Councillor Chandler said.
RAPAD became a Registered Training Organisation about 10 years ago to help fill a gap in the VET sector in the region to support the economic resilience of the region.
“At that time neither the LPC or TAFE system expressed an interest in offering VET courses outside of their existing scope, or in the region, respectively,” RAPAD CEO David Arnold said.
“Many of the courses nominated as areas of opportunity in the Coaldrake report such as tourism, hospitality, civil construction, community services, business are already being delivered locally by us, and the opportunity exists to expand on these into new areas”, said Mr Arnold.
“We have an excellent track record in the VET area and have been at the start of key projects like the Big Red Truck, an Education Queensland led Australian College of Tourism concept which was highlighted in the report,” he said.