In order to assist Catholics in casting their vote at the upcoming federal election, the Archdiocese of Sydney provided parties with a list of questions relating to a number of important issues for Catholics in this election. Their responses are provided here in full..
As the Commonwealth is the main recurrent funder of non-government schools, how will your party ensure Catholic schools remain an affordable option for Australian families?
Only Labor will ensure that all Australian schools are properly and fairly funded. In addition to Labor’s commitment to match the Government’s current funding commitments, Catholic schools will benefit from a range of other initiatives:
- Labor will establish a $280 million research institute – the Evidence Institute for Schools that will help improve schools and early childhood education centres by ensuring teachers and parents have high-quality research at their fingertips.
- A Shorten Labor Government will invest an extra $300 million to ensure students with disability get the support they need at school.
- A Shorten Labor Government will establish a new National Principals’ Academy to give thousands of Australian principals advanced leadership training and support.
- Labor will work with universities, school systems and the teaching profession to improve the quality of teacher education.
We support continued Commonwealth funding for non-government schools. Reduction or withdrawal of funding would lead to a severe restriction of freedom and choice for people (be they people of faith or people concerned about the direction of government schools), not to mention immeasurable additional cost to taxpayers.
Our schools policy invests more in our schools than any other party, and we’re proud of that. While our priority is ensuring that every public school is brought to 100% of its schooling resourcing standard by 2023, our policy does not cut recurrent funding for Catholic schools.
The Morrison Government believes that parents should be able to choose the school that best meets the needs of their child. We are delivering on our commitment, by providing a record $310 billion in recurrent funding to all schools over the coming decade. This is 62 per cent more funding per student, on average, and includes an extra $37 billion in funding over the decade. In the 2019-20 Budget, the Morrison Government delivered a record $21.4 billion for schools for the 2020 school year, an increase of $8.5 billion since 2013.
Importantly, we are backing our commitment to parental choice, by providing a $1.2 billion Choice and Affordability Fund over the next 10 years as schools transition to new funding arrangements. The Fund helps non-government schools and school systems to invest in their schools in ways that support parental choice, which can include keeping fees affordable, improving student wellbeing and support, lifting student performance, assisting schools in regional and remote areas and in drought-affected areas, and providing assistance to help schools to transition to needs-based funding.
Importantly, in addition to providing record funding, we have legislated funding for schools that is truly needs-based, and enshrined in legislation the autonomy of systems, including Catholic Education Commissions, to determine how best to distribute that funding to your individual schools, because we understand that it is the systems who run the schools, that best know the needs of your students and your schools.
It is the right of parents to choose the school and the education, faith or otherwise, which their children receive. As well, catholic and other systemic and non-systemic schools save State governments many many millions of dollars and should receive capital and operational funding to some extend which reflects this. After all, every child should have the right to receive a public contribution to their education regardless of the system in which they are educated.