Gonski buses hit Canberra

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23 March 2017

The “I Give a Gonski” bus tour has arrived in Canberra, with principals from across Australia taking the Gonski message to politicians.

The bus tour was launched in Adelaide and Brisbane on March 1, and spent three weeks touring NSW, Qld, SA and Victoria, visiting local schools and communities to highlight the success that Gonski funding is delivering.

The next few months is crunch time for Gonski, with Malcolm Turnbull wanting the states and territories to sign a new funding deal ‘in the first half of this year’. This deal could end needs-based funding after 2017 and deny schools an extra $3.8 billion in resources.

The principals got a great reception from MPs, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek and Greens education spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young dropping into the Gonski marquee set up on the lawns of Parliament.

While many MPs were keen to hear the stories of Gonski success first hand, Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham were notable absentees.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said Gonski needs-based funding was turning students’ lives around, but Malcolm Turnbull was ignoring the evidence of its success.

“I have spent the last three weeks travelling across Australia, seeing how creative and dedicated educators are using this funding to lift results for their students,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Schools are able to target students who are behind in literacy and numeracy, offer more support in class, and give children access to new opportunities, something that is especially important in regional schools.

“Losing Gonski resources would be a disaster for schools, which would be unable to build on the success they are already achieving and ensure every student who needs support can get it.

Principal Rebecca Hack, from Berserker Street State School in Rockhampton was part of the Canberra delegation and spoke of the importance of maintaining Gonski funding.

Her school has been able to provide intensive support to students, and more training for teachers, to help address the issues in one of Queensland’s most disadvantaged schools.

“The problem is that so much of what we do is dependent on funding and if our kids don’t get that support here, they won’t get it anywhere,” Ms Hack said.

Ms Haythorpe said that the Gonski campaign would continue to step up with national TV, radio and digital advertising to tell the community what’s at stake if Malcolm Turnbull scraps Gonski funding.

“Malcolm Turnbull still has not presented states or the public with the details of his plan, and he cannot tell us how a single school will be funded from next year,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“It is clear that Malcolm Turnbull is running out of time to reach agreement with the states. He needs to listen to them and fund the Gonski agreements in full.”