Federal Budget must deliver full six years of Gonski and fix funding shortfall for students with disability

15 February 2016

The AEU’s pre-Budget submission has called on the Turnbull Government to fund the full six years of Gonski funding and keep its broken promise to give all students with disability the funding they need from 2016.

The submission also calls for certainty around funding for Early Childhood Education and a guaranteed minimum level of resourcing for TAFEs.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that the Turnbull Government needed to invest in schools to ensure they had the resources to give every child a quality education.

““Investment in education is the key to long-term prosperity and innovation. If Malcolm Turnbull wants an innovative and competitive nation he must ensure our schools get the resources they need to support every child,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Needs-based Gonski funding delivers extra resources to all schools, with a focus on the schools which educate the most disadvantaged students.

“This is already allowing schools to invest in smaller classes, one-to-one support and targeted literacy and numeracy programs which are delivering real results.

“However the Turnbull Government is abandoning the last two years of the Gonski agreements, and instead indexing funding to inflation after 2017 – something that will mean no public school is funded according to need.

“They must recognise that Gonski funding is delivering results and we need the full six years to give schools the resources they need.

“Recent Productivity Commission figures have shown that in the lead up to the introduction of needs-based Gonski funding in 2014, per student funding to public schools increased by 0.6 per cent a year in real terms, while per student funding to private schools grew by 3.4%

“Gonski funding is correcting past inequities in schools funding, and we need the full six years to make sure that every child who needs help can get it.

“We also need urgent action to address the shortfall in funding for students with disability – which is seeing less than half of all students who need funded disability receive it.

“Inadequate funding and a lack of long term planning means over 250,000 children with a disability are missing out on the support they need to benefit from school.

The Federal Government’s own Nationally Consistent Collection of Data for Disability (NCCD) 2015 data found that 12.5 per cent of students need “supplementary, substantial or extensive support” at school – compared with only 5.3 per cent of students currently getting funded support.

“Talking Points for Coalition MPs circulated a fortnight ago claimed the Turnbull government was going to ”resolve funding for students with disability”. We need to see in the Budget how this is going to happen.

“The Turnbull Government promised to fund all students according to their disability from 2016, but schools are still waiting.

It also calls on the Turnbull Government to provide secure, sustainable funding for TAFE so it can continue its important role of providing quality vocational education and training to millions of Australians each year.

“TAFEs are currently under threat from State Governments’ ill-considered privatisation plans and the disastrous VET FEE-HELP scheme which is funnelling taxpayers’ money to low-quality private providers,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“TAFE must be guaranteed a minimum of 70 per cent of government VET funding, and the unsustainable and discredited VET FEE-HELP scheme must be suspended until there has been a thorough inquiry into its operation.”

The AEU has also called on the Turnbull Government to make a long-term commitment to funding 15 hours of Early Childhood Education from a university-trained teacher for all four-year olds. Currently there is no funding guaranteed beyond 2017 to ensure children can receive this vital preparation for schooling.

The full AEU pre-Budget submission is available at:

http://www.aeufederal.org.au/application/files/3814/5551/2028/Prebudgetsub2016.pdf

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291