Simon Birmingham must act on State and Territory concerns on funding plan set for Adelaide meeting

15 September 2017

Simon Birmingham must act on State and Territory concerns on funding plan set for Adelaide meeting

The Australian Education Union is calling on Simon Birmingham to act on serious State, Territory and public education sector concerns over the Turnbull Government’s school funding plan when he meets with education ministers at the Education Council in Adelaide on Friday, 15 September 2017.

‘We urge State and Territory education ministers to stand strong in voicing their concerns about the plan,’ said Australian Education Union President, Correna Haythorpe, today.

Federal, State and Territory presidents of the Australian Education Union will hold a 10.00am press conference at the meeting venue to highlight the impacts for children around Australia.

‘This meeting continues the flawed process that does what the Federal Government said it would never do – that is, take a command and control approach to school funding. This shambolic approach will not lead to genuine improvements in student outcomes.

‘We know States and Territories are already facing at least $3 billion in cuts in the next two years alone, and that those cuts will have direct impacts on thousands of children in public schools across Australia, including funding cuts for children with disabilities across five states and territories.

‘The OECD has recently reported a downward trend in Australia’s commitment to education spending as a proportion of GDP and compared to total spending on government services. It reports on these facts because it recognises that low resources hurt student outcomes,’ Haythorpe said.

Within that trend of declining investment, Haythorpe said disadvantage was heightened for public schools, many of which would remain below the school resourcing standard even after ten years of the Turnbull plan, while many schools in the wealthy private system would remain well above it.

‘We expect that States and Territories will come under strong pressure from the Federal education minister to sign a multilateral agreement or lose Federal funding in 2018.

‘This is nothing short of funding blackmail, where consultation to identify what is actually best for the thousands of children in our public schools is replaced by coercion to ram through a deal in no-one’s interests except those of the Federal Government.’

The meeting follows the announcement this week of a rushed four-week timeline for submissions to the latest Gonski review process that will reduce transparency and scrutiny.

‘States and territories know the impacts of this plan – putting the brakes on Federal investment in public schools puts the brakes on the future of children in schools open to everyone, schools that cater to families already facing the challenges of broader inequality,’ Haythorpe concluded.

The AEU press conference will be held at 10.00am at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Adelaide. Union Presidents will be in attendance from 9.00am for the arrival of education ministers.

Media Contact: Darren Lewin-Hill 0437 716 690