Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Australian Education Amendment (Direct Measure of Income) Bill 2020; Second Reading
The Australian Education Amendment (Direct Measure of Income) Bill forms part of the measures this government is taking to give all Australian children the quality education they deserve regardless of where they live or what school they attend by providing the funding that is fairly and transparently distributed and allocated according to need.
Before I go into the specifics of the bill, I think it's important to set out the context we find ourselves in in relation to government funding of schools. Funding of non-government schools in Australia is a shared responsibility between the parents and the guardians of the students attending those schools, the Australian government and state and territory governments. Through this bill the Australian government is introducing a more accurate methodology to calculate the capacity of the non-government school community to contribute to the cost of schooling. This more targeted and accurate direct measure of income will support the Australian government needs based funding model for all Australian schools, and under the government's Quality Schools package there will be more Commonwealth government money for disadvantaged students through loading payments, including those in remote and regional areas, and those with disability and Indigenous students.
The bill proposes to change the capacity to contribute methodology and the school's transition to a uniform Commonwealth share of the Schooling Resource Standard. The financial impact of these changes is an estimated additional $1.3 billion investment from the Commonwealth in recurrent funding over the budget and forward estimates from 2019-20 to 2022-23, and an estimated $3.4 billion increase in the recurrent funding over the 10 years to 2028-29. This will see the Commonwealth's investment in our children's education increase to a total of $314 billion from 2018-29.
This bill includes measures that support financial certainty by allowing schools time to plan as the new arrangements are implemented. Certainty in funding is essential to allow schools to plan for the future and the measures in this bill will help them do just that. Let me briefly outline how the Commonwealth funds schooling in Australia, because I note with interest the member for Sydney's comments earlier. We contribute funding to both government and non-government schools through the Australian Education Act. As things currently stand, recurrent school funding is calculated by reference to a base amount of funding for every primary and secondary school student along with six loadings that provide extra funding for disadvantaged students and schools. It is commonly referred to as the schooling resource standard, and for most non-government schools the base component of the schooling resource standard is discounted by a capacity-to-contribute percentage. The capacity-to-contribute discount is calculated based on the area based measure. Under this methodology the school community's capacity to contribute is calculated by averaging certain indicators of socioeconomic status for each ABS statistical area in which the students at the school reside.
This new methodology included in this bill was the result of recommendations made by the national school resourcing board in its review of the SES status score methodology in its final report. As part of the review, the board consulted widely and it received 34 substantive responses to the issues paper, including a number of detailed proposals which informed the board's consideration and analysis. The board also received 261 submissions, which were largely part of a coordinated standard response from individuals and school communities. The board members also undertook 38 face-to-face consultations, in all states and territories, with non-government education authorities, school leaders, communities, state and government agencies, researchers, policy analysts and other interested parties. The Australian government agreed to all six recommendations made by the board and this bill gives effect to the relevant recommendations to implement the capacity-to-contribute function.
Funding for schools in Forde across both government and non-government sectors will increase over the next 10 years. This particularly assists schools like Beenleigh Special School, where estimated Commonwealth funding per student is set to increase from $9,720 in 2019 to $14,502 per student in 2029. This will allow the school to have more specialised programs to provide their students with greater learning opportunities and experience and to build on the already outstanding work that Beenleigh Special School does each and every day for their students.
Catholic and Independent schools, including St Matthew's Catholic Primary School at Cornubia and Saint Philomena School in Park Ridge will also receive average increases of a little bit under four per cent in funding per student from 2018-2029, allowing more families from a diverse range of backgrounds to have a greater choice in their children's education. I note with interest that I received an email from Saint Philomena School yesterday talking about the improvements they're going to make to that school over the next few years and the redevelopment of that school. Those plans look extraordinarily exciting, and the contribution to the community will be enormous as a result.
Government schools will also continue to receive record levels of total Australian government funding, with an estimated $127.8 billion of recurring funding expected to flow to government schools from 2018-2029. In fact, government spending is the fastest growing for state schools, at around 6.4 per cent per student each year through 2018-23, compared to student growth of about five per cent for the non-government sector.
As a result of this bill, the school funding model will remain sector-blind and Australian government funding for non-government schools will continue to transition to 80 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard. The government will continue to refine the model over time. The government is continuing to deliver a needs based funding arrangement to ensure that students with the same need in the same sector attract the same level of support, so that every Australian child, no matter where they live, can have access to a world-class education.
At this point I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the outstanding work of the educators across all the schools in my electorate of Forde. Every day they are there at the forefront, whether it is the classroom, whether it's the cleaners, the groundsmen, the janitors, the principals, the administration staff—all of them do an outstanding job every day with a genuine and heartfelt desire to ensure that the students in their care have the ability to be the very best that they can be. I want to use this opportunity to thank them for their efforts.
As I said at the beginning of this speech, I believe that children are our future. This government certainly believes that. We are putting the money where it counts to achieve the best possible outcomes for Australian students. I commend the original form of this bill to the House.