2019 Federal Election – Response from Coalition

On behalf of member schools CSA has contacted the major parties seeking responses to our key policy priorities as we head into the coming Federal Election. In addition to commitments regarding religious freedom we sought commitments from the Education Minister and Shadow in relation to:

  • Funding for Distance Education Students
  • Capital Funding
  • Funding for “Year One – 2” Students
  • Cutting Red Tape for schools.

You can see our letters in our earlier briefing here.

The Coalition have responded indicating that –

Distance Education Funding

The Morrison Government provided $9.8 million over four years from 2018-19 for non-government distance education schools, to provide an alternative for families where mainstream schooling is not appropriate because of students’ geographic isolation, health issues or learning difficulties.

The initiative raises the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) for non-government distance education (NGDE) students by increasing base amount for NGDE students from 35 per cent to 45 per cent of the SRS funding amount. NGDE students will continue to receive 100 per cent of the loadings.

The Morrison Government will work with state and territory education authorities to ensure the appropriate levels of funding are provided to distribute to the non-government distance education sector in first half of the 2019 school year.

Capital Funding

The Morrison Government will continue to fund capital grants to support non-government schools to invest in infrastructure to maintain and improve their school facilities. The grants provide funding for non-government school communities to assist primary and secondary schools to improve capital infrastructure where schools otherwise may not have access to sufficient capital resources.

The Morrison Government has increased funding for grants by 28 per cent over 2018 levels, resulting in an estimated $890 million of capital funding to non-government schools over the next five years.

Funding for “Year One – 2” Students

The Morrison Government will provide more than 5440 million to states and territories for preschool in 2019 and 5450 million in2020, under the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.

The extension of the National Partnership will ensure almost 350,000 children in Australia have access to 15 hours of quality early learning a week, or 600 hours a year, in the year before school.

Cutting Red Tape for schools.

A vibrant, fairly funded non-government school sector ensures parents retain the choice of where to send their kids to school. The non-government system provides an alternative which improves standards across the board and alleviates pressure on the state system.

The Coalition reviewed the Australian Curriculum in 201.4to improve its clarity, reduce duplication and complexity. ln 2020, the Curriculum will be reviewed again. The Morrison Government intends to further improve the Curriculum to focus on the basics, such as literacy and numeracy.

Religious Freedom

The Morrison Government strongly believes in the right of parents to choose the school that best meets the needs of the child, including their faith.

The Morrison Government is committed to striking an appropriately balanced approach with any amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. We have sought to overturn exemptions introduced by Labor so we can make clear that discrimination against students is not acceptable, while at the same time ensuring religious educational institutions can teach and maintain rules consistent with their faith.

The Government recognised that parents need to be informed and empowered in a way that allows them to exercise their rights to make informed decisions regarding when it is appropriate to exclude their children from any particular teaching in a class that is specifically inconsistent with that family’s morals or religious beliefs. lt is also a feature of the Australian Federation that classroom attendance policies are primarily a matter for the states and territories.

lf re-elected, a Morrison Government will develop model guidelines relating to parents’ and guardians’ rights to request the removal of a child from a class that contains instruction on religious or moral matters, to ensure their rights are consistently understood and applied in all Australian schools, regardless of jurisdiction.

The Morrison Government believes the right of religious institutions to conduct themselves in a way consistent with their ethos should be protected. lt also believes that legislative exemptions to prohibitions on discrimination based on a person’s identity should be limited or removed altogether (if practicable); but recognises that achieving these twin purposes gives rise to complex legal and drafting issues.

That is why, in its response to the Ruddock Review, the Morrison Government committed to an Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) review of anti-discrimination laws across the country. We have already delivered on this commitment. The ALRC review of anti-discrimination laws has commenced, and the report is due in April 2020.

lf re-elected, in line with the commitments made in the response to the Ruddock Review, the Government will engage in a consultative process that would allow any necessary legislative changes to be introduced to Parliament with the benefit of broad cross-party and community support.

A copy of their full response can be downloaded below.