Schools and students

Budget Review 2022–23 Index

Dr Shannon Clark

In 2022–23, the Australian Government will provide $26.4 billion to states and territories to support school education under Quality Schools arrangements (Federal financial relations: budget paper no. 3: 2022–23, p. 40). Of this, $10.3 billion will be provided for government schools and $16.1 billion for non-government schools.

School funding trends over time

Australian Government funding for schools will increase slightly over the forward estimates (see Figure 1). Funding for non-government schools is expected to increase by 1.9% in real terms between 2021–22 and 2022–23 and by 2.7% in real terms from 2022–23 to 2025–26 (Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2022–23, p. 150). Meanwhile, funding for government schools is expected to increase by 2.2% in real terms between 2021–22 and 2022–23 and by 4.2% in real terms from 2022–23 to 2025–26 (pp. 150–1).

Figure 1        Australian Government expenditure on schools sub-function—government and non-government schools ($m, real 2021 dollars)

Sources: Australian Government, Final budget outcome, multiple years, Table A.1; Australian Government, Budget Paper No. 1: 2022–23: Statement 1: Budget Overview, 150.

Notes: Nominal budget forecasts have been converted into real figures (2020–21 dollars) by the Parliamentary Library using the budget estimates for changes to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) published on page 6 of Budget paper no. 1. ‘(e)’ means that figures are budget estimates.

Parameter variations since the 2021–22 Mid-year economic and fiscal outlook have implications for the distribution of school funding (Budget paper no. 1, pp. 93–4). Due to increased enrolments in non-government schools in 2021, Australian Government expenses for these schools are expected to increase in comparison to previous forecasts by $167.3 million in 2022–23 and by $834.9 million over the forward estimates (Budget paper no. 1, p. 93). In contrast, Australian Government expenses for government schools are expected to decrease by $138.2 million in 2022–23 and by $796.5 million over the forward estimates due to decreased student enrolments in 2021 in government schools (Budget paper no. 1, p. 94).

The Australian Education Union (AEU) criticised these changes in school funding, characterising the Government as having ‘slashed funding for public schools by $559 million over the next three years, whilst increasing funding for private schools by $2.6 billion over the forward estimates’. The AEU calculated these figures by comparing the forward estimates for school expenditure from the 2021–22 Budget to those in the 2022–2023 Budget. However, the changes between expected payments across budgets reflect changes in enrolments rather than a change in policy settings.

Table 1 shows that while the total number of school students in Australia increased by 0.6% from 2020 to 2021, those attending non-government schools increased by 2.2% and those attending government schools decreased by 0.2%.

Table 1         Number and percentage growth of school students (part-time and full-time) by sector (2014–2021)

Government schools

Non-government schools

Total students

No. students

% change

No. students

% change

No. students

% change






















































Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Schools, Australia, 2021 (Canberra: ABS, 2022), Table 42b; Parliamentary Library calculations.

As set out in the Australian Education Act 2013, Australian Government funding for schools is calculated using a per-student base amount for primary and secondary students along with 6 needs-based loadings, known as the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS). The SRS for a non-government school is reduced according to its capacity to contribute (CTC) score—an estimate of a school community’s capacity to contribute to the costs of running the school.

The Australian Government is the majority public funder of non-government schools and the minority public funder for government schools, while states and territories’ funding responsibilities are reversed. Under Quality Schools arrangements, by 2029 the Australian Government will provide at least 80% of the SRS for non-government schools and at least 20% of the SRS for government schools.

These funding responsibilities mean that increased enrolments in non-government schools will have a proportionally bigger impact on the Australian Government’s school funding than increased enrolments in government schools.

National Partnerships

In addition to Quality Schools funding, the Australian Government also provides funding to the states and territories for education services under National Partnerships (Budget paper no. 3, pp. 41–3). In 2022–23, the Australian Government will provide:

The current National School Chaplaincy Agreement ends on 30 June 2023. State and territory allocations under the National School Chaplaincy Agreement for 2022–23 onwards have not yet been determined. The Government extended the National School Chaplaincy program on a permanent basis in the 2018–2019 Budget (p. 11) and $61.4 million per year is included for the program over the forward estimates.

The new Preschool Reform Agreement came into effect from 6 December 2021 when NSW became the first state to sign onto the agreement. The Preschool Reform Agreement replaces the previous Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (2018–2021) agreement (see the Parliamentary Library’s Budget review 2021–22).

The National Partnership on Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment was due to end on 30 June 2022 (see the articles on Indigenous affairs elsewhere in this Budget review). The Government has committed $173.2 million over 2 years from 2022–23 to extend services under this agreement to 30 June 2024 (Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2022–23, p. 156).

There are 2 National Partnerships that do not have funding allocated beyond 2021–22. They are the School Pathways Program—an agreement between the Australian and South Australian and Western Australian governments to raise students’ awareness of defence career pathways and contribute to developing a skilled workforce—and MoneySmart Teaching—an agreement between the Australian and state and territory governments to support the delivery of online professional learning relating to the MoneySmart program.

School Education Support

The Government has committed $228.5 million over 5 years from 2021–22 (and $1.3 million per year ongoing) for the ‘School education support’ measure (Budget paper no. 2, pp. 77–8). The measure is ‘to implement recommendations from Next Steps: Report of the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review’ (Next Steps) and ‘for initiatives to improve education outcomes for students, particularly in regional and remote areas’.

Initiatives outlined under the measure are:

  • $62.4 million over 2 years from 2022–23 to extend the National Schools Reform Fund and Non-Government Support Reform Fund
  • $29.4 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to extend the Indigenous Boarding Schools Grants program for one year and establish a Commonwealth Regional Scholarship Program to assist families with the costs of boarding
  • $10.4 million in 2021–22 to expand the Emerging Priorities Program
  • $7.2 million over 4 years from 2021–22 for measures to assist lifting student performance, address disruptive behaviour and improve student engagement
  • $6.4 million over 5 years from 2021–22 (and $1.3 million per year ongoing) to establish the Initial Teacher Education Quality Assessment Expert Panel
  • $6.3 million in 2022–23 to support the building of a boarding facility in Tennant Creek under the Barkly Regional Deal
  • $6.1 million over 5 years from 2022–23 to provide Life Education Australia with funding to develop additional education modules on online safety, mental health and wellbeing, and respectful relationships.

The Government has already provided partial funding for the measure. Costs are also to be partially met from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s existing resources.

However, it is not clear from the measure’s description how the total funding commitment will be allocated. The initiatives outlined total $128.2 million, leaving $100.3 million of the $228.5 million not described. In response to a question at Senate Estimates on 1 April 2022, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment explained that the amount not included in the measure description related to two issues:

  • negotiations with states and territories to be undertaken in relation to the next phases of responding to Next Steps
  • contractual negotiations still to be undertaken in relation to an Indigenous education contract in the context of Closing the Gap (p. 81).

Additional support for students

The Government has also committed to a range of initiatives across portfolios to support schools and students. These predominantly relate to children and young people’s wellbeing and mental health, and consent education.

Student wellbeing and mental health

Under ‘Prioritising mental health’ (Health portfolio), the Government has committed to provide $547.0 million over 5 years from 2021–22 (see the article ‘Mental health and suicide prevention – stage 2’  elsewhere in this Budget review) (Budget paper no. 2, pp. 108–111). Initiatives under this measure include those specifically aimed at supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in schools, including:

  • $9.7 million over 3 years from 2022–23 for nationally consistent mechanisms to improve the management of mental health and wellbeing concerns in schools, including a national measure of student wellbeing, national guidelines for the accreditation of mental health and wellbeing programs and trauma-informed professional development for teachers
  • $3.3 million over 2 years from 2021–22 for early intervention and prevention mentoring programs for ‘at risk’ Year 8 students at government secondary schools
  • $1.8 million over 2 years from 2022–23 to continue a mental health literacy app to assist parents and carers to identify signs of social or emotional problems in children
  • $14.8 million over 5 years from 2021–22 to continue headspace programs and school suicide prevention activities
  • $0.8 million over 2 years from 2021–22 for mental health supports following the December 2021 tragedy at Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, Tasmania
  • $0.4 million over 2 years from 2022–23 for a program to encourage secondary and tertiary students towards a career in mental health.

Additionally, under the ‘Flood package’ (cross-portfolio), the Government committed $10 million over 4 years from 2022–23 for the Resilient Kids program to support the mental health of school-aged children in the Northern Rivers regions following the recent floods (Budget paper no. 2, p. 62).

As part of ‘International sporting events and community sport participation’ (Health portfolio), the Government has allocated $79.6 million over 3 years from 2022–23 for Sporting Schools to continue the program until 31 December 2024 to assist Australian children be more physically active and to foster healthy behaviours (Budget paper no. 2, p. 101).

Consent education

The ‘Women’s safety’ package (cross-portfolio), which is aimed at reducing and responding to family, domestic and sexual violence against women and children (Budget paper no. 2, pp. 66–69; Women’s budget statement 2022–23, pp. 6–26), includes funding for initiatives related to consent education.

As part of $1.3 billion committed over 6 years from 2021–22 (see the article ‘Women’s safety’ elsewhere in this Budget review), the package includes:

  • $32.2 million from 2022–23 for a consent campaign focusing on young people (aged 12 years and older) and their parents (building on $10.7 million allocated for the campaign in the 2021–22 Budget)
  • $6.0 million over 4 years to update the Government’s respectful relationships education online platform in line with the new Australian Curriculum
  • $5.0 million over 2 years for the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct a national survey of secondary school-age students’ understanding of consent.

Stakeholder reactions

As noted above, the AEU’s budget commentary criticised the reduced funding for government schools and increased funding for non-government schools. Other stakeholder commentary has primarily focused on specific initiatives:


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