I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which you have gathered and pay my respects to elders past and present.
Can I also acknowledge:
- Nadine Holland – Centre Manager – CUC Snowy Monaro
- Chris Ronan – CEO of CUC
- CUC Snowy Monaro volunteer Board members, past and present
- The Hon Bronnie Taylor MP
- Chris Hanna – Mayor of Snowy Monaro Regional Council
- Dennis Barnes – CEO of Snowy Hydro
- The Hon. Fiona Nash, Regional Education Commissioner
This really is a night worth celebrating.
10 years of changing lives.
And not just here. You have helped created a model that is now changing lives all around the country.
This is Australia’s first CUC. Originally called Cooma University Centre. And it’s only the second centre like it in Australia.
A place that breaks down that invisible brick wall that stops a lot of young people in regional Australia from getting a crack at university.
And you have helped more than 600 people like that study almost every course imaginable at different universities across Australia.
You are changing lives.
For that, I thank you.
For everyone in the room who has been part of this for the last 10 years – the Board, the staff, volunteers, students, mentors – thank you.
In particular I want to thank Nadine Holland, the Centre Manager for CUC Snowy Monaro and Chris Ronan the CEO of CUC.
Today almost one in two young Australians has a university degree, but not everywhere. Only 27 per cent for young people who live in regional or remote Australia.
I want to change that.
I want to make sure that more young Australians get that crack at university. To open the door of opportunity wider, not just for them, but for our whole country.
As you know, we’re in the process of reforming the whole higher education system to make it better and fairer for all Australians.
The Universities Accord Interim Report that came out in July had a suite of recommendations that we were told should be implemented straight away.
And number one was the expansion of these regional university study hubs.
Why? Well, you already know why.
The evidence shows that where these centres exist, more people in the local community go to university and more people finish.
It opens up the doors of opportunity for young people to get an education closer to home.
So that's what we're going to do.
We're going to double the number of study hubs nationwide, from 34 to 68. 20 more in regional Australia and 14 for the first time in the outer suburbs of our big cities.
In places where the percentage of people with a uni degree is low and where it's a long distance to get to a university campus.
In places where it can make a difference for more young people, just like you have done for the last 10 years. Like you are doing right now.
A big part of why this is happening is Fiona Nash.
She is a champion for people living in the regions.
Australia’s first Regional Education Commissioner and a key part of the Accord Panel that made this recommendation. Thank you Fiona for everything you do.
And so are nights like tonight to celebrate the past decade and to look forward to the decades to come.
And to keep opening doors and changing lives.
That’s what education is all about.