The Australian Education Union (AEU) is holding its annual Federal Conference this weekend, starting today in Melbourne. Speakers will include Labor leader Anthony Albanese, Labor Education spokesperson Tanya Plibersek, Greens leader Adam Bandt and AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe.
The conference has the theme ‘Resilience, Determination, Hope’ and will cover the widening equity gap in funding between the public and private school sectors, early childhood education and TAFE.
AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that there was a mountain of evidence showing that equitable public education funding was integral in providing opportunities for all students.
“OECD figures show that Australia has one of the most inequitable education systems in the world,” Ms Haythorpe said. “Only Mexico, Turkey and Spain have higher levels of inequity in school resourcing.”
“Yet Federal Coalition funding cuts to public education have only deepened the existing inequality between public and private school systems.”
These issues were articulated in the AEU’s recent Pre-Budget submission to the Federal Government, which highlighted extensive evidence that Australia has one of the most inequitable education systems in the world. Since 2013 the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison Governments have left public education funding in Australia falling significantly behind that of other OECD countries.
In its submission, the AEU called on the 20/21 Federal Budget to:
- restore the $14 billion cut from public schools including the $1.9 billion cut in 2018 and 2019.
- ensure that government schools are guaranteed funding at a minimum of 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), including meeting the funding requirements of the associated loadings for students with complex needs
- fund a long term capital works program for public schools equivalent to the Non-Government Schools Capital Grants Program.
- remove the 20% cap on the Commonwealth’s share of the SRS for public schools.
- commit to the Commonwealth guaranteeing its share of the funding required to ensure ongoing universal access of 15 hours of preschool for all 4 year olds as a bare minimum
- guarantee that 70% of all government spending on vocational education will be delivered directly to TAFE.
The AEU’s submission reported that Australia now has the second-most unequal education system in the OECD. Further, that education expenditure, and in particular public education continues to decline in Australia and now constitutes a lower proportion of total government expenditure (8.9%) than the OECD average (11.0%).
This inequity in funding leaves 99% of public schools below the minimum benchmark for school funding, the SRS.
The Conference will highlight the funding inequity profiled in the latest Productivity Commission’s annual Report into Government Services (ROGS), which showed:
- that per-student total government recurrent funding to private schools has grown at 3.3 times the rate of public school funding over the last decade
- government funding for public schools has grown by only 11 per cent over the last ten years, whereas government funding for private schools has grown by 35 per cent.
“Public school student enrolments are soaring, yet the Morrison Government is ignoring the needs of two thirds of Australia’s school students by refusing to provide equitable funding for public schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“The Federal Budget must urgently restore equity to public education funding in Australia,” Ms Haythorpe said.
“The Prime Minister must commit to funding for universal access to Early Childhood Education for children in the years before starting school, and restore the billions of dollars of funding which have been cut from schools and TAFE. This is vitally important not only for the economic future of Australia but for our children.” Ms Haythorpe said.
AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION 2020 FEDERAL CONFERENCE
AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION, FEDERAL OFFICE HEDQUARTERS,
120 CLAREDON ST, SOUTHBANK, VIC, 3006,
Friday 21 February, 2020
FROM 1 pm TO 2.40PM (CONFERENCE OPEN SESSION)
CORRENA HAYTHORPE, AEU FEDERAL PRESIDENT
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
TANYA PLIBERSEK, EDUCATION SPOKESPERSON, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
ADAM BANDT, LEADER, AUSTRALIAN GREENS