North West Telegraph - - Front Page - Ali­cia Per­era

One of the re­gion’s top-rank­ing po­lice of­fi­cers has out­lined plans to tackle al­co­hol con­sump­tion and youth crime — two of the big­gest prob­lems fac­ing the South Hed­land com­mu­nity.

Res­i­dents will be able to stay in the Pil­bara while study­ing univer­sity cour­ses and re­ceive ed­u­ca­tional sup­port from as early as mid-2019 af­ter a “game-chang­ing” univer­si­ties cen­tre model for the re­gion was awarded crit­i­cal fund­ing this month.

Fund­ing of $3 mil­lion from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment will al­low the es­tab­lish­ment of the Pil­bara Univer­si­ties Cen­tre — a sup­ported dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion ser­vice pro­vid­ing lo­cal tu­to­ri­als and ad­min­is­tra­tive and pas­toral sup­port for stu­dents tak­ing cour­ses with part­ner univer­si­ties — which will have its head­quar­ters based in Kar­ratha and a study hub in Port Hed­land. It will make the Pil­bara only the sec­ond coun­try re­gion in WA to have such a cen­tre af­ter the Mid West, and opens the door to a Pil­bara school of mines in the fu­ture.

PUC project co-or­di­nat­ing con­sul­tant Bren­dan Pen­zer said the fund­ing had been crit­i­cal for the ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion project to go ahead in full.

“It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing, be­cause it means the project will be a re­al­ity now,” he said.

“There’s still some work to do to get it to the start­ing line, but this is the first ma­jor hur­dle in mak­ing it be­come a re­al­ity.”

PUC ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee chair­woman and Kar­ratha and Dis­tricts Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tive Ky­lah Mor­ri­son said the cen­tre would im­prove ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion in the re­gion, ben­e­fit­ing res­i­dents and in­dus­try.

“Of­fer­ing a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre is go­ing to fur­ther im­prove the school­ing ser­vices that are of­fered in the Pil­bara and en­cour­age more fam­i­lies to con­sider stay­ing in the (re­gion) for longer, and as­sist those peo­ple re­sid­ing here to study with­out hav­ing to leave work or fam­ily if they don’t want to,” she said.

“The other longer-term ben­e­fit is we be­come a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for the re­source sec­tor, not just help­ing cur­rent res­i­dents to stay, but ideally at­tract­ing peo­ple.

“Nowhere in the world do we have so much in­dus­try on the doorstep of a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre. so that’s a great vi­sion for the univer­sity, and po­ten­tially down the track there might be a school of mines.”

The fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to open with a small num­ber of stu­dents in Se­mes­ter 2 next year be­fore the first full co­hort starts in Se­mes­ter 1, 2020.

Cour­ses will in­clude nurs­ing, early child­hood and pri­mary teach­ing, en­gi­neer­ing, busi­ness, and so­cial ser­vices such as so­cial work and psy­chol­ogy, and CQ Univer­sity, Curtin Univer­sity, Edith Cowan Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of South­ern Queens­land are in talks to be part­ner univer­si­ties.

Lo­ca­tions be­ing con­sid­ered for the Kar­ratha cam­pus in­clude the Kar­ratha Quar­ter and the un­der­de­vel­op­ment Kar­ratha En­ter­prise Hub, while the Hed­land study hub will likely be at the WEB Busi­ness Hub.

A process to re­cruit staff, in­clud­ing a man­ager, hub co­or­di­na­tor and stu­dent ser­vices of­fi­cer, is ex­pected to start in the next few months.

Du­rack MHR Melissa Price said she hoped the cen­tre would lead to ed­u­ca­tion be­com­ing “an in­dus­try of its own” in the Pil­bara, es­pe­cially if it prompted the cre­ation of a Pil­bara school of mines.

“We’re talk­ing about young peo­ple be­ing able to get an ed­u­ca­tion, but not just that, we’re talk­ing about it be­ing an in­dus­try so we’re go­ing to at­tract peo­ple from other parts of Aus­tralia and the world to come and get their univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion here,” she said. “There’s no rea­son why we can’t (have a school of mines) — we’ve got all of the right in­gre­di­ents here.”

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