Federal funding for non-government schools in Victoria in 2019 remains in doubt after the federal and state governments failed to come to an agreement over the Commonwealth’s education reforms.
- Non-government schools are concerned they may not receive federal funding expected in January
- Victoria has proposed a one-year interim funding deal
- The Federal Government says it is offering record funding to Victorian schools
The Commonwealth provides the majority of government funding for Catholic and independent schools, but in Victoria that money is under question for 2019 because Victoria has refused to sign the Federal Government’s Gonski 2.0 agreement.
The Andrews Government is resisting this deal, arguing it is not fair to government schools, while the Morrison Government has said unless Victoria signs up, payments to Victorian schools will not go ahead as expected in January.
The stalemate is causing anxiety in non-government schools who are worried about the flow of money early in the new year.
With the federal election due in the next six months, Victoria has proposed to sign up to a one-year interim deal to avoid any shortfall for independent schools in 2019.
“Victoria won’t be bullied into signing a dud multi-year deal for schoolkids by a belligerent leader of a minority government,” Victoria’s Education Minister James Merlino said.
“Scott Morrison has already recklessly rejected this proposal. This proves he is willing to hold kids to ransom to force through his unfair education deal.”
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said Victoria was the only state yet to sign up to the agreement.
“Every other state and territory has negotiated a five-year deal in good faith that provides record Commonwealth funding for state schools, Catholic schools and independent schools,” Mr Tehan said.
“Victoria is asking for a special deal that puts in jeopardy everything we have negotiated in good faith with every other state and territory.
“The Commonwealth wants to provide record funding to Victorian schools but the only way to do so is with the cooperation of Victoria.”
The Labor Party plans to target the Liberal Party on education at the federal election.
Assistant State Secretary Kosmos Samaras has said the ALP would target the Liberal-held seats of Deakin, Latrobe and Higgins as well as Chisholm, which was won for the Liberals in 2016 by Julia Banks, who has since quit the party and moved to the crossbench.
Labor won or recorded big swings against the Liberals in the corresponding state seats at last month’s thumping election victory.
Victoria has also argued there is no impediment to the Commonwealth providing funding to non-government schools next year without a deal, a point disputed by the Morrison Government.
“If Scott Morrison decides to withhold funding, then the responsibility for any impacts on schools rests solely and utterly with him,” Mr Merlino said.
Chief executive of Independent Schools Victoria Michelle Green wrote to Premier Daniel Andrews this week outlining the concerns of its 220 member schools and their 145,000 students that funding may stop in January.
“Already, I have had to advise member schools to plan for the possibility that the first 50 per cent of their Australian Government funding entitlement might not be received as expected in mid-January,” she wrote.
“Some schools, with insufficient cash flow to meet their January expenses without this payment, might now need to speak to a financial institution about creating or extending an overdraft and/or bridging finance.”
Ms Green asked Mr Andrews to bring forward state payments to the sector to cover any shortfall.