Coalition Senators' Additional Comments
Coalition Senators would like to provide additional information to the
Chair's Report to this inquiry to ensure there is a fair accounting of the
facts regarding levels of Commonwealth funding.
Coalition Senators acknowledge that the barriers to education faced by
students with disability and their families are significant. Evidence presented
throughout this inquiry shows that the challenges faced by students with
disability and their families in accessing education can have a detrimental
impact on their lifelong learning goals and future employment prospects.
However an important point that the Chair's Report failed to acknowledge
was that, although the Commonwealth provides a substantial financial
contribution to school education, it is not the primary funder of schools in
Australia. The fact remains that the Commonwealth provides one-third of
recurrent school funding while the states and territories are responsible for
the majority two-thirds portion.
In relation to Recommendations 1 and 2 of the Chair's Report, Coalition
Senators reiterate that the Government is already committed to supporting
students with disability on the basis of need and has committed record levels
of funding. The Commonwealth is contributing more than $5 billion from
2014-2017 rising by $100 million each year: $1.1 billion in 2014; $1.2 billion
in 2015, $1.3 billion in 2016 and $1.4 billion in 2017. The funding is applied
according to Students with Disability Loading (SWD) introduced by this
Government, which is exactly the same as the loading formulated by the previous
Labor Government in accordance with the Australian Education Act 2013.
States and territories are responsible for the overall quality of school
education in their jurisdictions. The Committee heard that some states do a
better job of supporting students with disability.
School leadership, improved teacher training, best-practice teaching and an
inclusive culture within schools are all significant factors which contribute
to better outcomes for students with disability and Coalition Senators support
the recommendations in the Chair’s Report which address these issues. There was
concerning evidence presented to the Committee that a number of schools, across
jurisdictions and sectors, were blatantly disregarding the Disability
Standards. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency by state and
territory governments to ensure that schools comply and that students with
disability do not experience discrimination or exclusion from the education
As a nation we expect all Australian children should be afforded similar
opportunities including access to a quality education regardless of where they
live and their socioeconomic background. Coalition Senators commend the Government
for the projects being undertaken to develop resources to support principals
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