Need for more govies as rural industry evolves

THE demand for governesses in rural Australia is higher than ever.

The rollout of the Australian Curriculum, tightening labour pools in agriculture and the expanding role of women on the land have all equated to more families choosing to employ a 'govie'.

For the next six weeks the Rural Weekly will explore the important role governesses fill when it comes to educating children in the bush. Each week you will read about a different governess and learn more about the challenges families are facing when it comes to employing a govie.

According to Isolated Children's Parents' Association president Wendy Hick, there are a range of reasons why more governesses are needed nowadays.

"There was a really high percentage years ago of mothers who supervised the distance education work themselves, but now we are seeing a growing number of governesses,” she said.

In the past, a rural mum could pack her kids and their maths lessons into the Toyota when she did a bore run. But that was not the case nowadays.

"There is a lot more structure with the Australian Curriculum, there are now the technology challenges in the classroom, as well as that the work in the family business within agriculture has expanded. The demand on the mother's and the family's time have grown,” she said.

For families who undertake distance education, it is required they have a person in the classroom, she said.

"It's usually the mother, or someone from the family or a governess,” she said.

"Having a governess frees up the mum to continue with her work on the property, or allows her to keep her job outside the property.”

Mrs Hick said it could be difficult to find the right person for the job, and it could be even more challenging to retain a govie.

"A lot of the people who are interested in governessing haven't experienced being out bush before,” she said.

"There is sometimes this romantic idea... the only knowledge some have of outback living is what they've seen on TV, but when the reality sinks in that they will have to make a lot of adjustment it can be quite difficult. There might not be other young people around other than the children in the family.”

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