Education International
Education International

Australia: Senate backs Gonski funding for full six-year period

published 10 July 2014 updated 17 July 2014

The Australian Education Union has called on Prime Minister Tony abbot to follow the recommendations of a Senate inquiry and reverse his decision to abandon the final two years of Gonski funding.

The Senate inquiry into schools’ funding in Australia is backing the full six years of the needs-based Gonski funding programme, an endorsement that is being applauded by Australian Education Union (AEU) President Angelo Gavrielatos. He said the findings of the Senate inquiry reflected the views of thousands of teachers, students, and principals who had made submissions calling for the Gonski funding to be delivered in full.

Damaging impact of cuts in Gonski funding

“The inquiry has made it clear that the Coalition’s plan to abandon Gonski will have a detrimental impact on students across Australia,” he said. “As the inquiry’s report states: ‘Unless governments and schools can make long-term decisions and target those groups of students most in need, the gap between the disadvantaged and the advantaged in the Australian school system will increase’.

Gavrielatos went on to say that “the inquiry found what we have now under the Abbott Government is a mess: no commitment to the six years of funding or to work cooperatively with the states and territories, the abandonment of the Gonski model after four years, and real cuts in funding every year after that totalling $30 billion over a decade.”

Equity and quality in education

The AEU president cited a growing body of international evidence showing the importance of equity in achieving excellence across a system, but pointed out that Australia seems to be moving further away from this as the Abbott Government abandons Gonski agreements with the States.

He added that up to 100,000 children with disabilities may be missing out due to a lack of funding, and the Abbott Government has failed to honour its 2013 election promise to replace the temporary loading with a needs-based one. “This broken promise is causing ongoing pain to thousands of children with disabilities who are being denied the chance of a decent education.”

Continuous push towards getting all schools to a national resourcing standard

The AEU supports the recommendation that the Commonwealth work to ensure that state and territory governments that did not sign up to Gonski contribute towards the cost of getting all schools to a national resourcing standard.

The union also supports the call for greater transparency about where school funding dollars go and is concerned that the Abbott Government is working to reduce accountability by changing the Australian Education Act.

“The Abbott Government must listen to the Senate, and the thousands of principals, parents, teachers and community members who have contributed to this inquiry, and commit to the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding,” he said.

EI: Resources vital to quality education

Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen welcomed the Australian Senate’s recommendations. “There needs to be a long-term commitment to Gonski, and especially the original agreement for the six years of funding needed to ensure every school has the resources to educate every student to a high level,” he said.

He reiterated that governments are responsible for ensuring adequate funding and equal access to quality educators, educational tools and environments for all.