The Australian Education Union in Victoria welcomes today’s state budget which will deliver a recurrent funding increase to Victoria’s public schools, a once in a generation increase to three- and four-year-old preschool programs, and funding to continue the rebuild of TAFEs.
“We welcome the continued investment in public education by the Andrews’ government, which is in stark contrast to Prime Minister Scott Morrison who showed no commitment to public education throughout the election campaign,” said Meredith Peace, President of the Australian Education Union Victoria.
“Victorian public school students continue to be the lowest funded in the country after six years of federal cuts.
“The Andrews government’s continued investment has closed this funding gap by approximately $1000 per student, but Victorian children still remain $1396 behind the national average.
“The Andrews government’s continued investment in new schools and refurbishments, continues to be significant with $648 million for new schools and $363 million to upgrade existing school buildings, with an additional $281 million for new relocatable classrooms and asbestos removal.
“The Andrews government’s decision to double its funding to non-government school capital works, to the tune of $100 million in the next financial year, is a significant concern despite the considerable increased investment in public school buildings and infrastructure.
“But the Andrews government cannot be expected to do the heavy lifting by themselves.
“Victorian government recurrent funding for public schools must be prioritised in any new bilateral funding agreement with the Federal government,” said Ms Peace.
The Andrews government held out on signing a school funding deal with the Morrison government because public school students were being treated like second class citizens.
“It is deplorable that the Morrison government is attempting to coerce the Andrews government into signing a school funding deal that will leave public schools funded to 95% in the best-case scenario when private schools are funded to 100% or more through the federal funding model.
“Public school students will continue to be funded by the Commonwealth at a lower level than private school students and the gap will continue to widen over the next ten years. That is not fair and not in the interests of our students or the community.
The AEU also calls for full transparency of the details in the deal when an agreement is reached.
“It will highlight the failure of the Morrison government to fund our public schools properly. Parents deserve to know both the state and federal government’s overall contributions to all schools across all sectors.
“Students in Victorian classrooms are missing out on extra one-on-one learning, additional literacy and numeracy programs, on specialist support for students with a disability and those with mental health issues, on smaller class sizes.
“We are also concerned that there is insufficient accountability for the expenditure of public funds allocated to non-government schools,” said Ms Peace.
“The budget reinforces the state government’s commitment to deliver on Victoria’s contribution to 15 hours of preschool for all three- and four-year-old children. This is an important and valuable investment in our children’s future and the future of this state.
“The uncertainty of whether the federal government will continue to fund their share of four-year-old preschool however, means that preschool teachers and educators could lose their jobs if Morrison cuts funding.
“The Andrews government are to be commended for committing to investment in workforce and infrastructure in a comprehensive package of funding for preschool,” said Ms Peace.
“All the Federal government has done to TAFE is make cuts, a stark contrast to the Andrews government’s introduction of free TAFE.
“The Morrison government treats TAFE as if it doesn’t even exist. It failed to mention TAFE once in their federal budget in April.
While this budget continues to assist our TAFEs to get back on track, we must see at least 70% of state government investment in vocational education and training provided directly to our public TAFEs,” said Ms Peace.