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Issue #1794      September 13, 2017

Disability funding cuts

Funding for public school students with disability in five states and territories will be cut by the Turnbull government next year, confidential new figures reveal.

The federal Department of Education figures, obtained by the Australian Education Union using Freedom of Information laws, show the biggest cuts will be in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Public schools in the ACT, South Australia and Western Australia will also have their funding cut. The cuts are part of the new Turnbull plan for schools, which passed through Parliament in late June.

In Tasmania the cut will be over 45 percent, with funding being slashed from $18 million this year to $9.7 million next year. Tasmanian funding for students with disability will still be far less than it is now in 2027.

In the Northern Territory the cut will be just over 35 percent with public school funding going from $26.7 million this year to $17.2 million next year.

The cuts are being made despite a resourcing crisis in the education of students with disability. Three quarters of the principals who responded to the AEU’s annual State of our Schools survey said they did not have the resources to appropriately meet the needs of all students with disability.

Almost 90 percent of principals said they had to shift funding from other areas of their budget to provide resources for the support of students with disability.

AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe said the cuts were unacceptable and had to be reversed.

“It is unconscionable to be making cuts in the area,” she said.

“We need a major investment in the education of students with disability not cuts that will make it so much harder for teachers and students.”

The cuts come as part of a revised approach to funding students with disability included in the new Turnbull school funding plan. The government has accepted that the number of students with disability that schools require funding to support is far greater than the number it has previously supported.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the number of students eligible for funding would increase next year from 212,000 to 470,000 in line with the results from the annual school census, the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD).

While that represents an increase of over 120 percent in student numbers, changes to the way the funding is calculated mean the overall funding level will only increase by 6.2 percent and public schools in five states and territories will go backwards.

Catholic schools in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania also face funding cuts next year.

Next article – Keep baby Asha safe

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