Concerns as program for bush education is slashed
Schoolchildren to miss out on bush education
SINCE 2004, the School to Industry Partnership (SIPP) program has helped teach Queensland primary school students where their food comes from and show high school students the many job opportunities in agriculture available to them.
The hands-on program is unique to Queensland and engages with more than 10,000 students and teachers every year right across the state.
Events like the popular Moo Baa Munch agricultural awareness days have provided the first opportunity for many children to touch sheep, cattle and chickens, to learn that cotton is from a plant, to pull vegetables from a garden and to climb over tractors.
SIPP was first funded by the Beattie Labor Government and has been supported by every State Government since on the back of the widespread support it has across agriculture, and from schools, teachers and students.
100 per cent of the $181,000 in government funding provided on an annual basis goes towards the employment of two part-time staff and the delivery of whole-of-agriculture education activities and services.
That’s why AgForce was so dismayed to receive a letter from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries stating that “DAF is unable to contribute any funding to SIPP beyond 2018”.
This decision comes as polling conducted by the National Farmers’ Federation for National Ag Day last year found that 83 per cent of Australians would describe their connection with farming as “distant” or “non-existent”.
Cutting funding to an agricultural education program will only further this disconnect.
It will mean fewer Queensland kids learning about where their food comes from and how it is produced.
It will mean fewer of the next generation pursuing a career in ag at a time when the industry is already facing critical skills shortages and technology is transforming the way we farm. It will mean the end of dedicated industry tours that give students direct contact with primary producers and potential employers. And it will mean less industry support and fewer professional development opportunities for our hard-working ag teachers.
Since news broke about this funding cut, I’ve been heartened to see the outpouring of support for the program from teachers, students, farmers, industry groups and everyday Queenslanders.
An online petition has been set up via change.org at https://bit.ly/2xpKcgO while many have taken to social media to share their stories about what the program meant to them.
I’d encourage Rural Weekly readers to keep voicing their support for SIPP and support our campaign to reverse this cut. Sign the online petition,
SIPP: Students from Dalby State High School, Dalby Christian College, and Our Lady of the Southern Cross attend a Dalby Ag Inspirations event at the Camm Agricultural Group’s Wonga Plains Feedlot. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTEDshare our posts on social media using the hashtag #SaveSIPP and email Agriculture Minister Mark Furner at agriculture@ ministerial.qld.gov.au to urge him to provide funding so this important program can continue.