Community forum to hear of Abbott Government’s threat to education in Townsville

15 September 2014

Tony Abbott’s cuts to education – from early childhood, through to schools, TAFEs and universities – will be addressed at a community forum in Townsville this evening.

Attendees will hear first-hand from local educators and national representatives from education unions about the damage that cuts and ‘user pays’ policies are doing in northern Queensland.

The forum is being organised by the Australian Education Union, the National Tertiary Education Union and United Voice, to highlight the attack on all parts of Australia’s education system.

The three unions believe that high-quality, accessible education is the best investment we can make in our children’s future, and that attacks on our education systems deprive children of opportunities.

Regional areas like Townsville are often left behind when it comes to resources, and any cuts will be felt more sharply here than in major cities.

The Abbott Government’s cuts will affect children in all stages of their education, from early childhood right up to universities and TAFEs.

Jeannie Rea, National President of the National Tertiary Education Union, said that education should be about opening doors, but the Abbott Government policies were slamming doors shut for students.

“We need to improve access to tertiary education, not create more barriers or put greater burdens on families like increased HECS debts and $100,000 degrees,” Ms Rea said.

“In the 21st century we will need to make the most of the abilities of every Australian, not just those whose families can afford to pay for an expensive education.”

Angelo Gavrielatos, Australian Education Union Federal President, said the Abbott Government’s decision to abandon Gonski funding agreements would strip resources and teachers from schools.

“We need well-funded schools that allow all children to reach their potential. This government has scrapped Gonski agreements which deliver more funding to schools in regional areas, and has broken its promise to increase funding for students with disability from 2015,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“As a nation we are wealthy enough to provide a decent education for all our children, regardless of where they live or their family background. The nations with the best school systems focus on equity, because they know this leads to better results overall.”

David O’Byrne, National Secretary United Voice, said that investment in quality early childhood education would deliver long-term benefits.

“We know that the early years are incredibly important, and we should make sure that all children have access to high quality early childhood education and care, so they are prepared for learning when they start school,” Mr O’Byrne said.

“Cuts to education are short-term thinking that will make Australia poorer in the long run, and damage our children’s future.

The forum will be held on Monday, September 15th, from 5.30-7pm, at Theatre 040-105, Medicine Precinct, James Cook University, Townsville

Media Contacts:

Ben Ruse (AEU) 0437 971 291

Courtney Sloane (NTEU) 0407 905 709

Madeleine Holme (United Voice) 0411 319 412