Spatial (in)justice is alive and well in Australian education: equity education and evidence based planning

Year: 2013

Author: Croft-Piggin, Lindy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Rural schools in Australia continue to illustrate the concept of spatial (in)justice elaborated by theorists like Edward Soja (2010), David Harvey (1996) and Doreen Massey (1994). The relationship between geographic location and the social opportunities of inhabitants is alarmingly elaborated by the disparity between student performance data from city based Australian schools and those from isolated rural locations. According to Chris Sidoti, a Human Rights Commissioner, Australian rural populations suffer poorer health, education, communication and economic opportunities (2001). In an era of ‘evidence based planning' and ‘evidence based funding' rural schools are doubly disadvantaged. In fields like disability, they do not have access to the diagnosticians to provide local support and cannot obtain local data which would provide the ‘evidence' needed to procure funding to demonstrate that rural students are entitled to support. Rural disadvantage compounds as the specialist support services required to provide ‘evidence' of need become thinner as you move further away from the coastal urban fringe. Issues of spatial Justice are explored in this paper in the context of public access school performance data from schools in the Riverina, NSW. Place and space matter at both the micro and the macro level. Rural schools provide evidence of the spatial production of justice and injustice.