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Children, Education and Youth – Education Funding


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Tags: Education, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, just so we can be clear about the resourcing issue. As I understand it, funding for Education has increased about 5 per cent in year 1, but, that is not actually new money and it diminishes over the forward Estimates. So, what you are asking of already under-resourced schools, minister, is for them to cope with CPI cost increases as well as the extra resourcing that is needed for the safeguarding officers, which is an excellent initiative, but also extra social workers and psychologists, plus funding for principal reclassification. That is a very significant extra layer of responsibility within the department with really no new money. You have had a crack at the Australian Education Union about their statement on this but their statement is verifiable.

Mr JAENSCH - But it is new money, Ms O'Connor. There is more money every year because under the agreement the state and the Commonwealth government are committed to growing our investment year-on-year, to predetermined targets at the end of 10 years. Each year there is more money to go around, it is not that we are asking our schools to do more with the same resources.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, you are.

Mr JAENSCH - Every year there is new money under the bilateral that is allocated to priorities at any point in time.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is standard growth money, but you cannot sit here and tell us that black is white. What you are asking of schools that are already stretched and this we know, is that they have to absorb all these extra costs within -

Mr JAENSCH - No, they do not, they are given extra resources for these extra things.

Ms O'CONNOR - We are talking about extra school social workers, extra psychologists, safeguarding officers, the reclassification of principals. Can you not see how that is potentially putting enormous unsustainable pressure on schools if you are not prepared to allocate new money?

Mr JAENSCH - Look at it from the other end. If you are in a school and you are identifying these extra needs and these pressures that you're talking about, including the need for professional support staff and to be able to provide for safety and to assure parents and school communities that we are child-safe organisations.

Each year there is a larger pool of funding that grows under our bilateral agreement to be able to allocate funding to those schools.

Ms O'CONNOR - Partly it's to absorb cost increases, CPI, et cetera.

Mr JAENSCH - No, it's beyond that.

Ms O'CONNOR - I said partly.

Mr JAENSCH - Are you happy for me to ask Mr Salter to clarify the finances aspect of this and how growth funding works? I will ask Kane Salter to speak, please.

Mr SALTER - Just to confirm what you're saying that the growth in the forward Estimates effectively has two parts. It has an indexation component and then there's agreed growth over and above that which the state is committing to and the federal government is committing to.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you. For clarity, have the costings been undertaken by the department on these new initiatives, including the safeguarding officers because, presumably, if people are appointed for within schools then there need to be other people who will step up and take on some of the responsibilities from the person who has been appointed, extra social workers and psychologists and the funding for principal reclassification. Has all of that been costed and is it funded within the funding envelope in the budget? What is the costing of those extra initiatives?

Mr SALTER - In terms of the two categories of staff that you're outlining there - the professional support staff sit outside the school budget and they're discrete positions which the school wouldn't be looking to backfill within their direct resourcing. In terms of the other component around if a teacher takes it up and the backfill then to the extent that that's in the school's approved establishment budget that is met centrally by the level of the FTE rather than them having to pay the dollars so both of those would be covered.