12 May 2014
Today in Canberra, parents, principals and students will participate in a forum on disability education, calling for the Abbott Government to keep its promise to deliver the full Gonski reforms in tomorrow's Budget, especially the additional disability loading due to be implemented in 2015.
We welcome Dr Ken Boston, former head of the NSW Education Department and one of the Gonski panel members, who will address the forum.
The forum will hear that unless the Government keeps its promise to honour the Gonski agreements, and fund the disability funding loading for schools from 2015, students with disability will simply not get the resources they need to participate fully in education.
Before the election, there was bi-partisan support for implementation of a new disability loading in Australian schools from 2015, as part of a needs-based funding model. However the Government has not guaranteed funding in this year's budget.
Currently, the Federal Government is providing interim funding for students with disability during 2014, to allow school systems and governments time to collect accurate data and prepare for national implementation. But unless the Abbott Government allocates money as promised, in the upcoming Budget, funding for students with disability will be cut next year.
"Reports that work towards a national methodology for the disability loading has fallen behind schedule are very concerning," Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis, said.
"Unless years five and six of the Gonski reforms are funded in the Budget, students with disability will remain substantially disadvantaged in our education system."
Before the election, the Abbott Government was absolutely crystal clear in its commitment to allocate additional funding for the disability loading from 2015:
"If elected to Government the Coalition will continue the data collection work that has commenced,
which will be used to deliver more funding for people with disability through the 'disability loading' in 2015."
Christopher Pyne - 23 August 2013 - Media Release: Bi-partisan support for nationally consistent data collection
And the Prime Minister subsequently re-affirmed this commitment in the Parliament:
"On schools, those loadings will be fully delivered."
Tony Abbott - House of Representatives - 3 December 2013
"Failure to implement this promised loading on time would be a terrible let down to a group of children who are already being failed by the current system," Shadow Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin said.
"If the full six years of education reform funding identified aren't delivered, schools will be below the student resource standard, and students with disability will be worse off still."
"Extra funding will not remove every barrier that a child with disability faces overnight, but it will ensure that all students get an education that gives them a chance to achieve their potential," said Kate Ellis.
"This broken promise will hurt those students who need help the most."