Federal Budget 2018: Missed Opportunities, Misplaced Priorities
From the Independent Education Union of Australia’s (IEUA) perspective, the 2018 Budget, while offering a number of small but important benefits to families and students particularly in rural areas, has largely failed to grasp the opportunity from an improved economic situation to build for a better Australia.
Noteworthy were announcements to assist young people in regional, rural and remote communities to transition to further education, training and employment; Commonwealth Supported Places annually for students commencing a bachelor degree at university through a Regional Study Hub; and improving regional students’ access to youth allowance.
However, and in spite of the major changes outlined in the recent “Through Growth to Achievement” report, and adoption of all recommendations by the Federal Government, no allocation in current or future years for the significant costs that will be incurred to genuinely deliver on these. The proposed indexation over the next decade will not be sufficient to properly resource the scale of change.
The totally misplaced and historically ineffective ‘tradies to teachers’ approach touted by this and previous governments has been re-labelled as “high achieving teachers” and will only serve to undermine the standing of the profession at very high cost to taxpayers.
The failure to commit long term to supporting the early years of education agenda, also part of the “Through Growth to Achievement” report, is unfair to children, their families and the professional staff working in early childhood education. It also fails to address the unfair and disparate wages earned by teachers in this sector.
Unsurprisingly, given its announcement and decisions last year on school funding, the government’s budget does not provide for the dollars committed under the Gonski school funding report, and indeed committed to by this government prior to its election. Consequently the real increases expected by schools for 2018 and 2019 will not be realised, even over the next decade.
Worse, the funding of students with a disability remains inadequate and a source of shame for a country as rich as this and given such a healthy budgetary environment.
By not prioritising education in the current healthy financial state only undermines any genuine commitment to the possibilities that might have been realised from the recent “Through Growth to Achievement” report.