2021 QTU State Budget Submission
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 2, 12 March 2021, page no. 13
Each year the QTU presents a State Budget Submission to the Queensland Government, a time-honoured tradition which allows the Union to call for funding to target its strategic priorities.
This year’s submission recognises that education and training have enjoyed strong support from the Queensland Government over the past six years, with additional allocations of funding to employ additional teachers and teacher-aides, as well as investment in new schools, school renewal and climate control measures.
But it has also been developed in the context of continued budgetary pressures brought about by COVID-19, and it is presented at the start of a year during which consultation with members for a replacement certified agreement will begin. In this context, QTU priorities include measures to reduce the workload of teachers, heads of program and school leaders, and address occupational violence in schools. The QTU also notes the pay deferral imposed on our members by the Queensland Government.
Fair go for state schools
The QTU submission calls on the Queensland Government to deliver fair funding for state schools. Commonwealth Parliamentary Budget Office costings show that $1.87 billion was cut from public school funding in 2018/19, and changes made by the Commonwealth Government cut a further $14 billion from state schools over the period to 2028. The Commonwealth Government also legislated to cap federal funding of state schools to 20 per cent of what they would require if they were to reach the minimum schooling resource standard. As a signatory to the National School Reform Agreement, the Queensland Government agreed to the federal funding cap.
The graph shows education as a proportional share of the Queensland budget from 2012-13 to 2020-21. The upward trend in education’s proportional share was disrupted in the last financial year. The QTU calls on the Queensland Government to increase education’s proportional share of the state budget in 2021-22, with the additional funding allocated to overcome the shortfalls of the National School Reform Agreement.
The QTU defines excessive workload in Queensland state schools as the sum of unreasonable hours of work and increasingly complex work. The Queensland Government must ensure that Treasury allocates funds so that the Department of Education can enact recommendations made by the Workload Advisory Committee, and that workload reduction initiatives arising from the reviews of senior assessment and tertiary entrance (SATE) and the Australian Curriculum can be fully implemented in all school settings.
The department has declared a zero-tolerance stance towards occupational violence. However, this is not the experience of many QTU members, who have been bitten, kicked, punched, spat at and sworn at, as well as threatened in the workplace and online. The QTU reaffirms that the primary responsibility for ensuring health and safety at work rests with the department. Accordingly, the QTU calls on the Queensland Government to commit to allocating funds from Treasury that will enable the department to deliver on its declared zero-tolerance stance.
Positive learning centres
QTU members are on the frontline of quality education in this state, and we understand that alternative education programs are needed to ensure that some young people and their families receive the best possible support. Alternative education programs can add value to the experience of young people and enable whole-of-government wrap-around services and non-government organisations to support young people and their families. The QTU supports alternative educational programs – specifically department-run positive learning centres – that tailor learning to individual students’ needs and support young people and their families in achieving educational goals, as well meeting wider needs including health, justice, relationships, and vocational training. The QTU calls on the Queensland Government to allocate funds to establish 25 positive learning centres per year throughout the state during the current term of Parliament.
The QTU’s 2021/22 State Budget Submission is available at https://www.qtu.asn.au/sbs-2021-22