The Australian government has outlined it’s $1.5 billion drought relief fund, and $10 million will be going toward supporting schools affected by the drought. The catch? It’s only private schools getting the funds.
According to Gizmodo, Minister for Education Dan Tehan mentioned the school drought relief concept back on November 7 in a press conference, but didn’t note that the money would only be going to private schools, not government ones.
“…so what we’re announcing today is using the similar approach that we had for the Queensland floods. $10 million for schools that are impacted by drought so that they can provide relief to families.”
For the Queensland floods, the funds were used to provide counselling services for kids.
“…the impact on students watching what their parents go through, seeing the toil, seeing the hardship that they have to deal with. We have to be able to provide the assistance as well.”
But, as Gizmodo points out, on the Department Of Education website it clearly shows the funds will only go to non-government schools.
“On 7 November 2019, the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, announced that the Morrison Government will provide $10 million additional funding through the Special Circumstances Fund to support non-government schools facing financial hardship as a result of ongoing drought conditions.”
Naturally, people are getting their back up about this. Australian Education Union’s president Correna Haythorpe told The Guardian that they question this “high proportion” of rural kids getting education from non-government schools, as is outlined on the site.
“We have thousands of government schools – more than 80% of students in rural and remote areas are in public schools and they are deeply impacted by drought,” she said.
“To privilege one sector over another is to further entrench a level of inequality. If you recognise there is a genuine need, surely you would deliver funding to all sectors [and] not make the package elitist and exclusive?”
Shadow Minister For Education and Training Tanya Plibersek also spoke to Gizmodo about the drought relief for schools, echoing Haythorpe’s concerns.
“[It’s] terrific that schools will get some extra help during the drought, but what about public schools? Public schools teach around two in three Aussie kids,” said the minister in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“[It’s] terrific that schools will get some extra help during the drought, but what about public schools? Public schools teach around two in three Aussie kids. Public school students and parents are struggling through this terrible drought too. What is Scott Morrison going to do to help them?”
Here’s hoping this backlash leads to a review of the drought relief for schools, and gets some aid across our public schools as well. As someone who’s mum is a public school teacher, I am all too aware of the financial needs government schools have – they rely on government funding, not hefty school fees.