Distance education

There is a range of government and non-government services that offer assistance to schools and students who require access to education because of geographic isolation or their circumstances. The aim is to provide equity and improve the educational outcomes of geographically isolated students. Distance education also allows students to access subjects that are not offered at their school.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, the Distance Education Program provides students from preschool to Year 12 who live in geographically isolated areas or are unable to attend school on a regular basis because of special circumstances with access to full-time education programs.

Education programs are delivered by a network of distance education centres and schools and include full-time preschool, primary and secondary programs, as well as single Year 9–12 courses for students wishing to study a course not offered at their school and pathway programs for Year 11–12 students wishing to complete their HSC over a number of years. A list of distance education schools in NSW is available on the NSW Public Schools website.

The NSW Government also runs a range of other programs to provide access and equity to students around the state, including a Country Areas Program and Rural Allowances and Scholarships.

There is one non-government school registered to provide Distance Education in NSW — Australian Christian College – Marsden Park.


In Queensland, Education Queensland provides distance education to students in Years Prep to 12 throughout the state through seven state schools of distance education:

Several non-government schools in Queensland are also registered to provide Distance Education:

These students may require distance education because of geographical isolation or they may be home based because of other circumstances. Education programs include full-time junior school, middle school and senior school programs, as well as single Year 8–12 courses for students wishing to study a course not offered at their school.


In Victoria, students in remote areas or those who cannot attend regular school due to illness, travel or other difficulties can study online or by correspondence through the Distance Education Centre Victoria (DECV), a government school offering a full Prep to Year 12 curriculum. DECV also enrols students for individual subjects not offered at their regular school.

South Australia

South Australian students who are unable to attend a local school or access particular studies at their school may be able to complete their schooling externally. This is known as external education. Study options range from telephone and video conferences to online lessons, provision of specialised course booklets, face-to-face workshops, camps and excursions, and visits from teachers.

External education is suitable for students who are:

  • South Australian residents who will be travelling for one or more school terms
  • living further than 3–5kms from the nearest school
  • carers or young mothers (or who have other commitments)
  • wanting to undertake subjects or vocational education not available at their school
  • 16 years or older and have left school
  • home-schooled to Year 10 level and preparing for SACE
  • completing SACE, nationally accredited vocational education or a training certificate.

Further information is available from the Government of South Australia and Open Access College.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, Schools of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) provide education to students who are unable to attend school conventionally. This may be due to geographical isolation, frequent travel, elite performance commitments, long-term illness or other special circumstances. SIDE also caters to students whose local school does not offer the subject they wish to study or who have timetabling constraints.

There are two non-government schools in Western Australia registered to provide Distance Education:

Australian Capital Territory

Distance Education is available for ACT students who cannot attend school as a result of isolation or special circumstances. There are two distance education centres (DEC) in the ACT.


Tasmanian eSchool was implemented in 2010, replacing Distance Education Tasmania and the Open Learning Network. Tasmanian eSchool takes the Blended Learning approach, offering a full education, online K–10 program with campuses in Rocherlea and Derwent Park.

From 2022, there will be one non-government school registered to provide Distance Education in Tasmania: Australian Christian College – Launceston
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