Students With a Disability Face Cuts in Five States and Territories Next Year
8 September 2017 at 10:08 am
Students with a disability will receive reduced funding in five states and territories next year, according to data obtained by the Australian Education Union (AEU).
The figures, from the federal Department of Education, show government funding for public school students with a disability will be cut from next year by the following amounts:
- in Tasmania, funding will be reduced from $18 million in 2017 to $9.7 million in 2018;
- Northern Territory will see funding reduced from $26.7 million to $17.2 million;
- South Australia’s funding will be cut from $53.7 million to $44.2 million;
- Western Australian funding will drop from $44.6 million to $41.1 million; and
- ACT’s funding will drop from $9.1 million to $8.6 million.
The AEU has attacked the Turnbull government for these cuts, which it said have come “despite a resourcing crisis in the education of students with disability”.
AEU federal president Correna Haythorpe said: “It is unconscionable to be making cuts in the area. We need a major investment in the education of students with a disability, not cuts that will make it so much harder for teachers and students.”
But the government has defended their funding approach, pointing out that overall funding for students with a disability will be increased next year from $1.519 billion to $1.626 billion, while the number of students eligible for funding will grow from 212,000 to 470,000.
The difference in funding distribution is due to a change in the students with disability loading model. From 2018, it will be calculated using the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data for students with a disability (NCCD).
The NCCD is national data collected annually to identify the number of school students with a disability, and the level of reasonable adjustment provided for them. Using the NCCD is designed to transform the system into a transparent and needs based funding model.
Over the next decade, the government said funding for students with a disability will grow by an average of 5.9 per cent each year, with any changes in student characteristics for schools reflected in their funding entitlement. The government believes this will make funding more responsive to individual student needs.
In a statement from Simon Birmingham provided to Pro Bono News, the education minister said the Turnbull government’s needs-based funding reforms would ensure students that needed the greatest level of support would get the greatest sum of money.
“I’m incredibly proud that after many years of state and federal governments talking about it, the Turnbull government will be the first to use the NCCD to support students with disability to ensure funding supports those who most need it,” the minister said.
“As well as the Gonski needs-based plan we’re putting in place we’ll be using the new nationally-consistent data on students with disability to ensure funding support flows and follows students according to their needs.
“Our plan delivers $21.2 billion for students with disability reflecting the Gonski approach of fair, transparent and needs-based funding.”
The NCCD has been a bipartisan policy for seven years, and Birmingham said he would “be shocked if the Labor Party were reneging on their support for information that will be so critical for helping those students who need it most”.
But the ALP has attacked the new funding arrangements, which they said showed “the Liberals short changing some of our most vulnerable students.”
Labor’s shadow assistant minister for schools, Andrew Giles, told Pro Bono News that the government was not providing adequate funding to cater for an increased demand for support.
“We want to see data which accurately reflects students with disability who need assistance. There’s been a process ongoing which has been bipartisan, but we have been concerned with its progress and with [issues regarding] its implementation,” Giles said.
“But what we’re really concerned about, is that this data is showing many more students in need of support, but we don’t have funding that matches that. It’s clearly indicated in the education department figures which were released by the AEU this week.
“Students with a disability and all students, should be funded through needs-based funding and that’s why Labor’s continuing to commit $17.3 billion more than the government, to support every Australian at school.”
The government’s new funding arrangements will take effect from 1 January 2018.