Children with disability will miss out if Federal Government fails to deliver promised schools funding boost in 2016

11 December 2015

Thousands of children with disability will continue to miss out on funded support at school unless the Federal Government delivers on its promise to increase disability funding in 2016 at today’s Education Ministers conference.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that Education Minister Simon Birmingham must explain how the promised extra funding was to be delivered to schools to address the huge long-term unmet need in disability education.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that in 2012 there were 127,000 students with disability in mainstream schools who were receiving no funded support at school, almost half of the total.

“This included 37,000 students with severe or profound disability.

“Educators and parents know there are huge shortfalls in resources for students with disability which are hurting the chances students with disability have of getting a quality education.

“That’s why the Federal Government’s promise to increase funding from 2016 is so crucial. It is now December and we are still waiting on how this extra funding is to be delivered.

“Students with disability can require in-class support, specialised programs and equipment or extra individual attention to benefit fully from school, all of which takes time and money.

“All the data confirms we have chronic underfunding of disability in schools which must be urgently addressed.

“The Federal Government’s National Consistent Collection of Data on Disability (NCCD) in 2013 showed that 13.1 per cent of students had some kind of disability, compared with just 5 per cent who receive funded support at school.

“Our surveys of principals have found that 84 per cent say they shift funds from other parts of their budget to educate students with disability due to resource shortages.

The Federal Government promised to increase resources to students with disability at the 2013 election, to ensure that all students who required support received it. The promise was repeated by the Education Minister Christopher Pyne in June this year when he said that from 2016:

“Every child in Australia with disability will be able to receive the correct loading, as they should, to match their disability’

“Minister Birmingham has also stated that funding from 2016 will be informed by the NCCD, which has now been completed. There is no excuse not to deliver on this extra funding from 2016,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“He has already added to the uncertainty schools are facing by telling Senate Estimates in October that some States or sectors could be worse off under the Federal Government’s proposed changes to disability funding.

“This would be an extraordinary breach of the Federal Government’s promise and would leave thousands more children without the resources they need to benefit from school and make the most of their ability.

“We need to address the resource shortages immediately and ensure that all students with disability get the funded support they need.

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291