Budget Review October 2022–23 Index
Dr Shannon Clark
The Budget October 2022–23
gives effect to the Australian Labor Party’s (Labor) election commitments to address
teacher shortages, upgrade
schools and support student wellbeing, and improve
consent and respectful relationships education.
The measures are geared towards improving student outcomes
and student wellbeing, particularly as school communities manage the impacts of
the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the measures also highlight the role of schools
in addressing broader social concerns, including the status of teachers, children
and young people’s wellbeing, and issues relating to consent and relationships.
These measures reflect the
Australian Government’s role in school education. States and territories are
primarily responsible for school education. The Australian Government
contributes to school
funding and works together with state and territory governments on national
Unless otherwise indicated, figures are drawn from Budget
measures: budget paper no. 2: October 2022–23.
The biggest school education measure in the October 2022–23 Budget
is a package aimed at addressing teacher shortages and improving the quality of
teaching. Although national
data is limited, there are numerous reports,
including from peak bodies, advocacy groups and unions, of teacher shortages
across Australia, with some describing it as a national
crisis. Workforce shortages have been exacerbated by COVID-19 contributing
illness and burnout.
In August 2022, the education ministers met with principals,
teachers and education experts for the Teacher
Workforce Shortage Roundtable. At the Roundtable, Education ministers committed
to developing a National Teacher Workforce Action Plan to increase teacher
recruitment and retainment. A working group is developing the Action Plan and
will deliver its report in December 2022. On 3 November 2022, Minister for
Education Jason Clare released the Draft
National Teacher Workforce Action Plan for public consultation.
Recent reports, such as the Productivity Commission’s Review of the
National School Reform Agreement – Interim report (September 2022) and Next steps:
report of the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review (QITE review, February
2022), have called for better data to inform an effective national workforce
Drawing on high-level modelling from the Department of
Education, Minister Clare released an issues paper, which
stated that ‘between 2021 and 2025, the demand for secondary school teachers is
projected to exceed the number of new graduate teachers by approximately 4,100
teachers’ (p. 4). However, a breakdown
of the projected demand also projected the supply of primary teachers would
exceed demand by 8,420 teachers in the same timeframe.
Table 1 Projected demand for
teachers compared with supply of new graduate teachers by year
teachers less required teachers
Source: Senate Education and
Employment Legislation Committee, Answers to Questions on Notice, Education,
Skills and Employment Portfolio, Budget Estimates 2022–23, 6 April 2022, Question SQ22-000180.
Addressing teacher shortages
The October 2022–23 Budget includes a package of measures
aimed at attracting and retaining high-quality teachers and improving student
outcomes, which implements Labor’s election
commitments in this area.
Overall, the package provides $310.4 million over 9
years from 2022–23 (and $7.9 million per year ongoing)(Budget
paper no. 2, pp. 96–7). Funding is provided for:
- Bursaries to attract high-achieving students to teaching – $160.1 million
will be provided over 8 years from 2023–24 for up to 5,000 bursaries of
$10,000 per year available to school leavers with an Australian Tertiary
Admissions Rank of 80 and above, First Nations students and students from
regional areas (see also Regional
ministerial budget statement October 2022–23, p. 81). An
additional $2,000 will be available for students completing their final year
placement in remote or regional areas.
- Expansion of the High
Achieving Teachers program – $78.8 million over 5 years from
2022–23 will be provided to support an additional 1,500 high-achieving
professionals to become teachers through employment-based pathways.
- Implementation of recommendations from the QITE
review – $60.6 million will be provided over 9 years
from 2022–23 (and $7.1 million per year ongoing) to implement
recommendations, including those with a focus on attracting quality candidates,
ensuring initial teacher education (ITE) programs are high quality, and providing
better support for early career teachers.
- Administrative costs associated with the measure – $10.9 million
will be provided over 9 years from 2022–23 (and $0.8 million per year
ongoing) for the Department of Education.
The Australian Education Union welcomed
the funding to address teacher shortages, although it cautioned that ‘this step
alone does not solve what is an escalating national crisis’.
Improving initial teacher education
Work is also underway to improve ITE. The QITE
review’s final report was released in February 2022. Then Acting Minister
for Education and Youth Stuart Robert announced
that Professor Mark Scott would chair a new Initial Teacher Education Quality
Assessment Expert Panel to develop threshold standards for ITE courses. The Coalition
Government’s March Budget
measures: budget paper no. 2: 2022–23 included $228.5 million over
5 years from 2021–22 (and $1.3 million per year ongoing) to implement
recommendations from the QITE review and for initiatives to improve educational
outcomes for students.
In September 2022, Minister Clare announced
Professor Scott would lead a review into how teaching is taught at universities
and announced members of the Teacher Education Expert Panel. The Expert Panel will
deliver its report by 30 June 2023.
Upgrading schools and improving student
Students in Australia have faced years of disruptions
to schooling due to COVID-19, fires and floods, which have significantly
impacted their wellbeing. In its interim report,
the Productivity Commission emphasised the importance of student wellbeing as an
important outcome of schooling as well as it being a vehicle to achieve
improved learning outcomes (p. 103).
The October 2022–23 Budget delivers funding for school
infrastructure and for student wellbeing initiatives.
Schools Upgrade Fund
Currently, the Australian Government provides capital
funding to block
grant authorities for non-government schools through the Capital
Grants Program under subsection 67(2) of the Australian Education
Act 2013, with the amount available worked out via provisions in the Australian Education
Regulation 2013 (the Regulation). Using the Regulation’s indexation
percentage for 2022, $194.5 million is allocated
to block grant authorities, an increase of $15.6 million from 2021 (p. 2).
The Schools Upgrade Fund will provide $270.8 million
over 2 years from 2022–23 to support capital works projects for schools. It
will be delivered as grants over 2 rounds in 2022 and 2023 (Budget
paper no. 2, p. 94).
Under Round 1 in 2022, the Australian Government will
provide $50.0 million to states and territories. Grants will be open to
all schools ‘to help improve ventilation and air quality and make small scale
improvements such as upgrading computing equipment and school facilities, as
well as targeted grants for schools identified with priority needs’ (Federal
financial relations: budget paper no. 3: October 2022–23, p. 41).
In 2023, Round 2 will provide $215.0 million to states and
territories for grants for government schools. Grants will be available for
major works, such as new classrooms, buildings or other major refurbishments
and upgrades. Allocations will be made in consultation with state and territory
governments. Under Round 2, ‘government schools will receive the same amount of
funding as non-government schools for new buildings and major facilities
paper no. 2, p. 94).
This measure will not require amendments to the Australian
Education Act 2013 as the Act does not preclude the payment of capital
grant funding for government schools. As noted in the Department of Education’s
Government Brief for Minister Clare, the Regulation will need to be
amended to give effect to program guidelines which will include funding
conditions and expenditure requirements (p. 51).
Student Wellbeing Boost
The potential for schools to contribute to prevention and
early intervention in the mental health of their students was highlighted in
Commission’s Inquiry Report into Mental Health (2020; see Chapter 5), and
the Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention’s inquiry
One recommendation from the Select Committee’s report was for
governments to work together to ‘implement an agreement to increase the ratio
of school psychologists to a minimum of one full time equivalent on-site for
every 500 students across all levels of school’ (p. xxxiv).
Under the Student Wellbeing Boost, the Australian Government
will provide $203.7 million over 2 years from 2022–23 for ‘a funding boost to
every Australian school to help address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on
student wellbeing’ (Budget
paper no. 2, p. 96).
commitments stated that the average school
would receive $20,000, with funding able to be used for:
extra school mental health professionals like psychologists and
camps, excursions, as well as sporting and social activities that
improve kids’ wellbeing
proven student wellbeing and mental health initiatives.
The measure also includes $10.8 million for the development
of a voluntary mental health check tool to help schools identify declining
mental health in students.
The support for student wellbeing has been welcomed by
stakeholders. For example, Independent
Schools Australia’s Chief Executive Margery Evans said that ‘Looking after
wellbeing of students has never been more important and our understanding of
students’ needs is increasing’. Citing ISA commissioned research, Ms Evans said
‘students are experiencing poor mental health more often and at an earlier age’.
However, Ms Evans also noted the need for flexibility in the program to allow
schools to determine the most effective programs for their communities.
The Student Wellbeing Boost appears to have some
similarities of purpose to the National
School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). For example, the NSCP’s project
agreement outlines outputs:
The output of this agreement is the delivery of the NSCP,
which consists of the provision of chaplaincy services in Australian schools to
support the wellbeing of students through:
(a) pastoral care services; and
(b) strategies developed in consultation with the relevant
school staff and school principal that support the wellbeing of the broader
school community, for example: coordinating volunteering activities and
support, breakfast clubs, lunch time activities, excursions, school incursions,
and parent/carer workshops (p. 3).
The NSCP supports more than 3,000 school communities annually,
with participating schools receiving up to $20,280 (or $24,336 for schools in
remote areas). In June 2022, media
reported that Labor was ending the compulsory religious aspect of the NSCP
and opening up the program to qualified student welfare officers.
The Australian Government provides $61.4 million annually to
states and territories for the NSCP. The current agreement
runs until 30 June 2023. An evaluation
of the NSCP is currently underway.
Consent and Respectful
The Budget includes $65.3 million over 4 years from 2022–23
(and $18.2 million over 2 years from 2026–27) for age-appropriate consent and
respectful relationships education (Budget
paper no. 2, p. 91).
The need for improved consent and respectful relationships
education in schools gained prominence through the ‘Teach Us Consent’ campaign. The
campaign originated from an online petition
launched by Chanel Contos that went viral in February 2021, receiving
hundreds of allegations from respondents saying that they had been sexually
assaulted as school students.
Ms Contos spoke to education ministers at their
meeting in February 2022 about the need for
consent to be included in the curriculum. Minister Robert stated that there was
‘wide and unanimous agreement from all jurisdictions about including that
consent-based education within the curriculum under health and physical
In April 2022, education ministers endorsed
version 9.0 of the Australian
Curriculum. The revised
curriculum included ‘a strengthening of explicit teaching of consent and
respectful relationships from F–10 [Foundation to Year 10] in age-appropriate
As outlined in Budget
paper no. 3, the Government will provide funding to states and
territories through a national partnership, with $20.4 million to be provided annually
from 2023–24 over the forward estimates (p. 39).
As part of its election
commitment, Labor pledged to establish a National Respectful Relationships
Education Expert Group. Budget
paper no. 2 states that the Expert Group will conduct a rapid review to
identify key areas of need in respectful relationships education across the
states and territories, and will develop an accreditation framework for
external providers of educational programs (p. 91).
In the March 2022–23 Budget, as part of the $1.3 billion
Women’s Safety package, the Coalition Government provided funding for
initiatives related to consent
education. The October 2022–23 Budget will partially reverse the respectful
relationships component of the Women’s Safety package and redirect uncommitted
funding. From this, the Government identified savings of $5.9 million over
4 years (Budget
paper no. 2, p. 92).
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