Release type: Transcript


Interview - Sky Newsday


Senator the Hon Anthony Chisholm
Assistant Minister for Education
Assistant Minister for Regional Development

KIERAN GILBERT [HOST]: Labor has announced the location of ten new Regional University Study Hubs, bringing tertiary education closer to students living in the regions. The new hubs join the 34 existing regional study centres that are spread around the nation. Data suggests university participation and completion has increased where the hubs are located. Joining me now is the Assistant Education Minister, Anthony Chisholm. Thanks so much for your time. So, talk me through the process around this. How did you choose where these hubs go?

ANTHONY CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: The Department went through an independent process, so the areas were able to apply, and they needed to demonstrate that they had community support. Often that comes from the local council, but they also needed to demonstrate that there is a need to boost the number of people who are studying in those areas and give people more opportunity. 

GILBERT: How do they work - for our viewers who are just tuning in and might not know?

CHISHOLM: Sure, so there's 34 existing operational at the moment and I've been to a few of them and they have a support worker. Sometimes they'll have more than one, particularly in high First Nations areas and they have that community outreach, and they also provide support. So, one of the things that's really good in these areas is they'll go to talk to the senior classes at the local high school and say "Well, if you're interested in further study, you don't necessarily have to move away. You can stay and live in your local community and study locally". They’ll also work with local businesses in the area so they can identify the skill needed. We know there's a real skills challenge, so they're catering the need so that they can fix that challenge, engage with the local community and create a workforce of the future from people who mightn't want to move away to study.

GILBERT: And yeah, well that makes sense, which institutions are getting behind this?

CHISHOLM: The beauty of this is that they can study at any university around the country. So, I've been at these centres in -

GILBERT. So, the hubs aren't aligned with, say, University of Sydney or Western Sydney or James Cook. They can go to any university?

CHISHOLM: That's the beauty of it, and they can study whatever course they want. So, I think there's something like 4,000 students across the country at the existing centres and they're studying at all sorts of universities around the country, all sorts of degrees. But the pleasing thing for me is that it is that next nurse, that next teacher that we desperately need in these regional areas will be able to study at these hubs.

GILBERT: Yeah, indeed. Is it a situation where, say a young student goes to Brisbane or Sydney, and then they're not liking it and they want to go home, can they go back to one of these hubs and finish their degrees at home in that sense?

CHISHOLM: Absolutely, yeah. It is that person who maybe does get a bit homesick or also someone who initially out of high school, doesn't want to move away so they could do a year at the local study hub, they feel comfortable, they've settled in and then they want to go study at their university on campus.

GILBERT: They might have a good local job.

CHISHOLM: Exactly and that's definitely the case at the moment in a strong labour market, that it isn't hard to find good employment. But, we don't want people neglecting that higher education opportunity that comes with it to boost their wages into the future.

GILBERT: They don't have to pack it in entirely just to get a job and I guess the cost-of-living question is also at play here, too, because not everyone's got the wherewithal to say, "Okay, we'll fund this kid's rent or staying in college and university", they can just stay at home.

CHISHOLM: That's right, and they can stay living with their family. They've got that community support, which is fantastic. But it's also what we've seen is a couple might have moved to an area, you've got one of them working, the other one's got a bit more time on their hands and they're using that to study, create opportunity for themselves in the future. So, there's so many benefits and that's why we're really pleased to support these additional hubs.

GILBERT: On another matter, we've seen the Tassie election at the weekend. Labor didn't do so great. They obviously aren't going to form government by looks at things, and the poll today has Labor's primary vote down. As a former State Secretary of the ALP, what's your assessment of where the Federal Government is? Bit over halfway through the first term.

CHISHOLM: Great thing about not being State Secretary anymore, Kieran, is not having to worry too much about the polls, but I understand your interest in them. I know that what Australians see is a government that's prepared to make the right decisions for them. I understand that polls will bounce around between now and the election, but I'm confident what Australians are seeing, a government, and stage three tax cuts I think are the best example of this, we make the tough decisions in the national interest, and I think that Australians will respect that. We know we've got to continue to work on that, making those right calls between now and the election.

GILBERT: And it's vital, isn't it, for a government to say you are listening to people's concerns, that you're on their wavelength?

CHISHOLM: Absolutely and we had recent council elections in Brisbane. We saw Tasmania. There was also a really good byelection result in Adelaide on the weekend as well, that caught me by surprise. Australians send a message in those polls. Governments of the day need to listen. I know that is something that the Prime Minister will be doing, and we're also ensuring that we've got our focus on Australians who are doing it tough. That's what we'll be doing with stage three. That's what we'll be doing in the lead-up to the budget as well.

GILBERT: Assistant Education Minister, Anthony Chisholm, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.