Australian Government funding announcement

8-MAY-2017

This week’s Quality Schools announcement by the federal government is a direct attack on Catholic schools.

Not only did Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, fail to consult before releasing their new school funding blueprint. They have produced a document that will mean parents at Catholic parish primary schools will be expected to pay similar fees to those charged by elite independent schools.

Catholic Education Melbourne has led the calls for the government to reconsider its proposals.

Catholic education is driven by a spirit of service to the community. We seek to provide an education imbued with the Church’s values to whoever wants it. Because our schools are born from this sense of service we have always sought to make our schools open to as many people as possible. We have always sought to keep them low-fee.

Earlier this year we presented compelling evidence to the Commonwealth that fundamental flaws in its funding model short-change Catholic schools by over-estimating how much our families can afford in fees.

Not only did the government fail to respond. It has produced a new funding model that attacks parental choice and means schools across the Archdiocese will face the grim reality of either raising fees or cutting valued student programs. As I said in my opinion piece in last week’s Herald Sun, Birmingham’s measures are fundamentally flawed. Faults lie at the heart of his funding model.

The impacts of this package are stark and harsh. We estimate Catholic schools in Victoria will face a funding cut of about $25 million in real terms in 2021, which will increase by a similar amount each year – $50 million in 2022, $75 million in 2023 and so on and so forth.

Our study of the fine print of Quality Schools suggests this ill-considered policy will have a negative impact beyond the Catholic system. All schools will face massive cuts in real funding from 2021 thanks to the new indexation rate the government intends to apply under its 10-year funding proposal.

We will continue to examine the package closely, express our concerns vocally, and urge the government to open real consultations with all school sectors and fix this.

Archbishop’s Pentecost Letter to Youth

Archbishop Hart’s Pentecost Letter to Youth should be in schools now. Its theme, Be Courageous, invites and challenges young people to reflect on how to live courageously, how to ‘be alternative in the world’, because the Holy Spirit of Courage is with each young person.