29 January 2015 | Author: Stephen O’Doherty
Queensland’s LNP Government has responded to CSA’s pre-election letter, offering further consultation, dialogue and support for Christian Schools.
The LNP’s letter, like that of the ALP, for the most part promises the status quo. School education has clearly not been a particular policy priority for either major party, despite a number of significant issues which we feel need to be addressed.
First among those is the issue of funding for students with disabilities. Not only is it inadequate across all sectors, it is particularly so in non state schools, who receive a fraction of the funds to support each student compared to those available in the state system.
This is a nation-wide issue, and with all other state governments, and the commonwealth, the LNP is content to sit out the extremely lengthy (unnecessarily on our view) review process instituted years ago by the Gillard Government. With the Queensland Government simply defending its record, the ALP Opposition likewise has not sought to change the status quo. Queensland, and other states, are failing to take leadership on this area of significant need.
On the positive side, CSA particularly appreciates the LNP’s commitment to be involved in ongoing dialogue with CSA with respect to Special Assistance Schools. There are 4 SAS schools which are members of CSA in QLD and this is an increasingly important educational area where all students can be recognised for their inherent worth and value and participate in programs which prepare them for employment and contribution to their community.
The Government has committed to engage in further dialogue about the funding needs of Christian schools, although there is no policy commitment to change the current arrangements.
The LNP has restated its commitment to choice in schooling. Regarding the crucial issue of the right of faith-based schools to engage staff who adhere to the tenets and beliefs of the religion concerned, the LNP’s letter simply states that “recruitment is a matter for individual independent schools”. Given the very detailed discussion of this issue in our original letter, and specific request for a commitment to religious freedom in employment, the vague wording of the LNP letter is curious. It certainly is out of step with the specific support generally expressed by other LNP and Coalition governments, and it is less affirming of faith-based schools than the response received from the Qld ALP.
This is a matter about which CSA will be seeking more specific assurances from the LNP should it be returned on saturday.
For convenience, the original CSA letter to the parties, and the ALP and LNP responses are attached below.
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