State Budget 2022-23
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 5, 8 July 2022, page no.8-9
The State Budget was brought down on Tuesday, 21 June. Contrary to expectation, the Budget Papers and the government were silent on wages policy. Unfortunately, nothing in the Budget properly addresses the major issue in education right now: the teacher shortage crisis.
Overall, expenditure on state schools is set to increase by a little under 6 per cent (not taking into account inflation or enrolment increases). Education fell as a proportion of overall funding from 25 per cent in 2021-22 to 24.3 per cent for 2022-23.
The Budget maintains the government’s commitment to building new schools in growth areas and refurbishing and expanding facilities in existing schools. Infrastructure expenditure is reported as $1.9billion. Building more schools and more infrastructure is necessary, but without teachers and school leaders they are just buildings, not schools.
There’s funding for the transition to a new resourcing model for students with disabilities, an expansion of the Share the Dignity Scheme, and for the Respectful Relationships Program.
The Budget allocates $80.6 million over 3 years from 2022–23 to support the transition to reasonable adjustment resourcing (RAR) for students with disabilities. RAR will replace the current educational adjustment program (EAP) and aligns with the National Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD). While this additional funding is a step in the right direction and assists in the transition to RAR, it should be noted that it is not ongoing funding. Further information on the nature and roll-out of RAR will be provided in the near future.
$13.3m has been allocated for the installation at “all state schools” of Share the Dignity Vending Machines. However, some sources have indicated that only secondary schools will be included. The QTU is seeking clarification as to whether this will apply in primary schools.
After years of continued campaigning, the QTU supports the inclusion of $15.5 million over three years for the Respectful Relationships program to be rolled out in all schools. However, this is a paltry sum in comparison to the amounts committed to a similar program in Victorian state schools: $82m. In Queensland, the funding will provide TRS for schools (one day per school) to release for PD.
A major area of concern is the lack of funding for teacher staffing. While the government continues to express confidence that it will meet its election commitment to provide “6,190 new teachers” over four years, the numbers provided so far do not seem adequate and have almost exclusively been related to enrolment increases and new school openings. There have been no new measures to address teacher shortages or provide additional teaching support for schools.
TAFE Queensland expenditure is slated to increase by 9.2 per cent, but this will incur an operating deficit of nearly $41.5m. Unlike the public schooling sector, where the overwhelming majority of income is from government sources, TAFE relies heavily on user charges and fees, which will represent 37 per cent of income in 2022-23. Income uncertainty has meant that TAFE expenses have exceeded income.
As noted in the recent report by the Queensland Audit Office, TAFE Queensland faces significant financial challenges: “TAFE Queensland’s financial results have been deteriorating over the last four years, and based on current projections, this is likely to continue”. This is because of a deeply flawed model of funding vocational education and training in which TAFE is forced to compete in a “training market” against private VET providers, while at the same time providing services and commitments in its role as the public provider that do not apply to its competitors, for example providing training in rural and remote areas and in “thin” training markets. “While private providers have the option to stop delivering training that makes a loss, this is not consistent with the Queensland Government’s expectations of its public providers”. The government’s approach has been to (inadequately) cover the extra costs faced by TAFE due to its competitive disadvantage, rather than to provide funding designed to establish TAFE Queensland as the state’s premier provider of vocational education and training.
To make matters worse, there were no new major capital works projects in TAFE identified in the Budget Papers.
The QTU is committed to protecting the future of our profession and the futures of the students we teach. In times of high stakes funding, this Budget is an underwhelming response from the state government that fails to address the most important issues facing the education profession at this time.
All of the Budget Papers can be accessed on-line at: https://budget.qld.gov.au/