The AEU welcomes investment in public schools and preschools in the Andrews government’s 2022–23 state budget, but there is an ongoing need for better TAFE funding.
The AEU has welcomed significant investment from the Andrews government in Victoria’s public schools, including an extra 1,900 teachers, a funding boost to support students with disability, and record investment in infrastructure. There is also important ongoing investment in 15 hours per week of kindergarten for all Victorian three and four-year-olds.
However, the budget does nothing to address the funding shortfall for TAFE, despite the state government’s own review clearly showing that Victoria’s TAFEs are not funded to cover the full cost of training.
The introduction of Free TAFE in earlier Andrews government budgets, along with substantial investment in upgraded campuses, have been important steps in repairing the neglect wrought by previous Liberal governments. But this is still not enough to support TAFEs to meet the full costs of delivering high-quality education and student services, leaving more than half of Victoria’s TAFE institutes in deficit.
The union has been campaigning for many years to see TAFE properly supported to meet the costs of delivery.
The union has been campaigning for many years to see TAFE properly supported to meet the costs of delivery. State and federal governments must target 70% of vocational education funding towards public TAFE, limiting the amount of public funding up for grabs by private, for-profit training organisations.
State budget for TAFE
- An extra $83.2m over four years for the Office of TAFE Coordination to help “collaboration across the TAFE network”, support transition to the new funding model announced in 2021, and expand support of practical placement coordination for TAFE students.
- $12m for the Apprenticeship Support Officers program for students at risk of failing to complete apprenticeships.
- $1m over four years to include Auslan in Free TAFE offerings.
- $800,000 for an audit of accessibility in TAFE campuses for people with disabilities.
State budget for Schools
- Real growth funding for public schools of 1.3% ($122.4m) to support initial reduction of face-to-face teaching.
- Boost in real funding for Support for Students with Disabilities (7.6%) and Support Services Delivery (9.1%).
- $1.65bn for new capital projects for public education, including 13 new schools to open in 2024, and upgrades for 36 special schools.
- $779m over five years to hire 1,900 new teachers to support workload improvements and reductions in face-to-face teaching hours.
- $103.8m over four years for software upgrades to reduce administrative workloads and improve resources for digital learning.
- New initiatives for rural and regional schools to support students’ academic achievement and reduce the administrative burden on schools, including $28.7m to establish a “regional blended learning hub”; and new partnerships between school clusters and local Aboriginal communities.
- $36.9m over four years to expand the Navigator outreach program to support more young people at risk of disengagement, plus pilot to extend eligibility to 10 and 11-year-olds.
State budget for Early childhood
- Ongoing promotion of universal access to four-year-old preschool through subsidised fees, supplements for small and rural providers, and incentives to employ experienced teachers, worth $76m over four years.
- $50.9m towards maintaining 15 hours of four-year-old kindergarten under the new Preschool Reform Agreement with the Commonwealth.
- Ongoing support for the Kindergarten Inclusion Support program for students with complex needs or disabilities, worth $16.9m over four years.
- $18.6m over four years to continue early intervention programs for vulnerable children, including the LOOKOUT program to support preschool children in out-of-home care to access preschool and successfully transition to primary school, and Access to Early Learning outreach support for vulnerable children to participate in early learning.
- $86.1m over four years to improve access to Vocational Education and Training Delivered to Secondary Schools (VDSS) pathways and certificates, with funding model revised to better reflect delivery costs and promote local coordination and planning between schools.
- $41.4m over four years to expand current student wellbeing and mental health programs, including LOOKOUT, and Headspace counselling and training; as well as for the ongoing provision of mental health practitioners in secondary schools and special schools with secondary enrolments.