Scholarships attract students studying teaching to rural Riverina

One Riverina teacher says there are more benefits to working in the bush than graduates realise. 

Boree Creek Public School principal Elissa Routley said the best thing was the 25 students in her care.

Her words follow the announcement of a government initiative to bring more teachers to remote country towns and villages. 

The incentive: Free university degrees.

Ms Routley has worked as a Boree Creek teacher for 19 years and as its principal for three. 

It is a gig she said she wouldn’t trade for the world. 

“The best part about working in a rural area is the (children) themselves,” Ms Routley said. 

“Most of our kids are farm children. They have a good perspective on life and (a set of skills) I think may be lacking in urban areas.”

With two part-time and one full-time teachers in 2014, the east Riverina village was among three schools across the region and 150 across the state, identified as needing more retained staff. 

For graduates who accept a posting at one of these schools, their HECS debt will be paid. 

The new scholarships are available to new and enrolled students, and include $7,500 per year to assist with studies, in addition to a $6,000 “sign on” bonus. 

Ms Routley said no one could know what life was all about until they came to a rural or remote community.

“It’s about more than just day to day going to work,” she said. 

“You get to be immersed in a connected, compassionate, resilient and caring community that’s been through a lot of adversity.”