Government Trashes Gonski
Despite claiming to be on a 'unity ticket' on school funding before the election, the Government has walked away from Gonski.
On Tuesday evening, the Government announced it will not deliver two thirds of the Gonski funding. The Gonski funding was to be phased into Australian schools over 6 years, from 2014 to 2019. Two thirds of the increase the Gonski Review determined our schools need were scheduled to come in in 2018 and 2019. In the budget, the Government announced they would not deliver that funding.
In sheer dollar terms, Australian schools will receive $30 billion less over the next 10 years. Contrary to their pre-election commitment, every Australian school and every Australian student will be worse off.
Students with disabilities forgotten
Additionally, the Government has broken its promise to students with disabilities to deliver the Gonski loading in 2015. As Justine Ferrari wrote in The Australian: "The budget fails to outline any additional funding for students with disabilities, a major election commitment, with only $57.7m provided in 2014-15 and no funding outlined in the forward estimates."
AEU Federal President, Angelo Gavrielatos pointed out: “In August last year, Education Minister Christopher Pyne promised more funding for students with disability recognising the extent of neglect,” Mr Gavrielatos said. “There are at least 100,000 students with disability missing out under the current system and it is estimated that an extra $2 billion is required to adequately support them,” Mr Gavrielatos said. (AEU Media Release)
- $21 million that had been committed to fund the Centre for Quality Teaching and Learning at UC.
- $19.9 million over five years from the budget of Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)
- $2.6 million per annum from 2017‑18 from Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
- $9.6 million over four years by not proceeding with the development of the Australian Baccalaureate.
- Under an unusually honest budget item: ‘Improving Educational Outcomes — reversal’, the Government announced a $29.8 million cut over four years by not proceeding with funding for the Improving Educational Outcomes measure
Extra funding for school chaplaincy programme
- Despite destroying the Gonski plan for needs-based funding, the Government has found an additional $245.3 million over five years (including $1.5 million in 2018‑19) to continue the National School Chaplaincy Programme until December 2018.
- New strings are attached to that funding so it will only be provided to religious ministers and it will no longer support secular welfare officers.
We will keep fighting for a fair funding system
In a powerful article on Monday, ‘Abbott has nowhere left to hide on education’, former MP, Rob Oakeshott wrote:
"Freezing education funding to indexation is a direct attack on families from regional and rural Australia. Freezing education funding to indexation is a direct attack on Aboriginal Australia. Freezing education funding to indexation is a direct attack on poorer Australia."
Oakeshott went on to predict that the Government’s failure to honour its commitment to Gonski will result in a widespread backlash.
“I get the sense that a breach of promise on the "unity ticket" on school funding will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and bring many to the point of protest - students, teachers and parents. And as a parent in a regional community, I don't flag a mood of protest lightly. But I'll be damned if my children are to be entrenched into a category of achievement 30 per cent lower than others, for no other reason than we live in regional Australia. Needs-based funding is the obvious answer to the education data that does not lie. If the Budget doesn't present the promised "unity ticket" on this common-sense logic, I expect a lot of Australians will be loudly reminding Abbott and Pyne of good policy and bad promises.”
Oakeshott is right. We have achieved so much to improve funding to our schools. We will keep fighting until every student is provided with the resources they need to get the best possible start in life.