Federal Government’s $1.2bn private school slush fund

The Federal Government has allocated more than $1 billion in additional funding between the Catholic and private school sectors while completely ignoring public schools.

The $1.2 billion funding package, originally announced in 2018, has been allocated to Catholic and Independent schools in agreements stretching to 2029, with no requirement for the funding to be equitably distributed and little accountability on how the funding can be used.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan’s media release claimed that the money will go to “schools in regional, rural and remote areas” and “schools affected by drought, bushfires and other natural disasters”, however the actual agreements show that less than 10% is earmarked for regional schools and there is no requirement to support bushfire or drought affected schools.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe called on the Federal Government to urgently address this school funding inequity and immediately provide additional funding for students in public schools.

“This announcement demonstrates that the $1.2 billion ‘Choice and Affordability Fund’ is nothing more than a private school slush fund cynically dressed up as a response to natural disasters,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Federal Government blatantly ignores the needs of regional and remote public schools in fire and drought-hit areas, while giving more than $1 billion dollars to private schools.”

“This announcement shows that the ‘Choice and Affordability Fund’ has little to do with helping rural and remote schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“In fact, it completely ignores public schools in regional and remote areas. These schools have been significantly affected by bushfire and drought, and where the student need is greatest, yet have not received any additional Commonwealth funding.”

“Where is the much-needed funding for public schools which have been equally-impacted by drought, bushfires and COVID-19? Public schools have received nothing from the Federal Government to respond to natural disasters and nothing for much-needed improvements,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Public schools across Australia will also see a $19 billion funding shortfall over the next four years.”

“It’s clear that the Federal Government has no interest in true needs-based funding, and has completely abrogated its responsibility to help public schools with the greatest need,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The Commonwealth must ensure that all public schools are funded to 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard, and provide additional funding to schools in fire and drought affected areas to support these schools through crisis times,” Ms Haythorpe said.

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