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Greens release their Gonski principles and say fund schools urgently

Media Release
Penny Wright 2 Sep 2012

In the wake of reports that the full implementation of school funding increases will be delayed until 2020, the Australian Greens have today called for the Government to increase funding urgently and announced five principles against which they will assess the Government’s expected formal response to the Gonski Review - and any subsequent legislation.

Australian Greens spokesperson for Schools, Senator Penny Wright, said the Gonski review provides the first real opportunity in more than three decades to fundamentally reform the way schools are funded in Australia, to create a fairer system.

 "A trickle of increased funding over many years is not going to help our kids now or help build a smarter country," Senator Wright said.

"Children starting school in 2014 will be nearly finished primary school by 2020. We should not make them wait until over halfway through their schooling to get the full benefits of a fairer, more effective system.”

Among the Greens principles is a requirement that all schools that receive public funding comply with high standards of transparency, accountability and community standards, such as non-discrimination.

“It is important that all schools, government or non-government, be completely transparent and accountable when it comes to the use of taxpayers’ money.

“We must also ensure that our system can meet the needs of all students, especially those with high needs, such as students with a disability, who often face bullying, discrimination and have to make do with inadequate facilities. 

“Only a true needs-based funding system, as recommended by Gonski, will direct money where there is most disadvantage. This also means that government schools which have struggled for a long time with chronic underfunding should be prioritised when it comes to the allocation of new money under the Gonski reforms.

“Over the past couple of weeks, the old parties have demonstrated that they are more interested in playing into the hands of non-government schools than they are in establishing a first class public education system.

“Tony Abbott still refuses to accept the evidence that our current system is inequitable and plans to cut $2.8 billion in funding to our schools.

“The Greens are the only party committed to implementing the Gonski principles in full and focus on improving our current schools funding system so that all Australian children get a fair go.

“If we want to be a fairer, smarter nation, we can’t afford to wait. Let’s get on with Gonski.”


 1. A new funding model must focus on the needs of students and promote equity and high standards. Gonski recommends a needs-based funding model, which the Greens support, as it is the best opportunity to ensure significant on-going investment in our public education system. We are concerned by the government’s suggestion of linking much needed school funding to performance, as this risks perpetuating disadvantage and inequity.

2. A significant investment by the Commonwealth government in our public schools. Gonski recommends a $5 billion investment a year into schools, predominantly public schools. The Greens call for this level of investment at a minimum, and say further that the Commonwealth government should take the lead and provide the bulk of this funding as it is best placed to raise necessary revenue.

3. Any new funding model must ensure that the greatest amount of new funding is directed to Australia’s public schools. The first priority for the allocation of any new funds to implement the Gonski reforms should be our public schools. Our public schools teach the majority of students with higher needs. For example, 77% of students from low income backgrounds, 86% of Indigenous students, 80% of students with a disability, 72% of rural students and 84% of students from remote areas are educated within Australia’s public school system.

4. Ensure that our education system can adequately meet the needs of all students, particularly those with special needs such as students with a disability. The Greens believe that every student – irrespective of their background, family income or geographic location – should have an equal opportunity to be enriched and extended through their educational experience. This is not the current experience of many students with disability. It is a common experience for students with disability to experience discrimination, low expectations, bullying, inadequate resourcing and assistance through their education journey. This systemic inequality facing students with disability cannot be addressed unless schools are adequately funded and resourced. It is well past time for the Commonwealth and the States to address the yawning gap of inappropriate support for children with disabilities in our schools.

5. All non-government schools that receive public funding should be required to comply with high standards of transparency and accountability and community standards. Non-government schools should be completely transparent in relation to their resourcing and their use of public funds. Furthermore, schools receiving public funds should live up to community standards in matters such as non-discrimination. Unlike public schools, non-government schools can choose which students they enrol, can hire and fire teachers on matters unrelated to performance, and are not accountable for where the money they receive is spent.


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