[Documents menu] Documents menu

Union fears more funding cuts would hit education

By Carolyn Jones, Education Correspondent, The Age,
Wednesday 26 April 2000

Schools and TAFE colleges will suffer if more education department jobs are cut in next week's state budget, a key public sector union has warned.

The Community and Public Sector Union believes fewer department administrators will mean a drop in their productivity savings and this failure will have a detrimental effect on teachers and students.

It claims a reduction to the number of administrators in the budget on May 2 would affect the services and advice provided to schools and teachers in such areas as budgeting, curriculum and student assessment.

Under the 1.5per cent annual productivity savings policy introduced by the Kennett administration and adopted by the Bracks Government, the Department of Education, Employment and Training is required to cut $20million a year.

This is on top of the $10million the department has to cut annually from its consumables budget.

But the union fears the government is now planning an extra $15million of cuts to the education public service in next week's budget.

A report by the RMIT-affiliated Union Research Centre for Organisation Technology, commissioned by the union, warns that any additional cuts will have a serious impact on the ability of schools and TAFEs to operate. The union plans to use the report in its battle to win more resources for public education.

The report says that while funding for school and TAFE programs has increased since the Bracks Government took office last year, departmental cuts are continuing.

The cuts are targeted at the essential administrative infrastructure on which the effectiveness of the education system depends, the Education: Time to Rebuild, Not to Cut report says.

No rationale has been provided for these cuts. They are being hastily implemented and are ill-conceived. They will have a negative effect on the way in which the department fulfils its statutory obligations and provides services to ministers, to schools and TAFE institutes.

The cuts have meant that department resources have been relocated or transferred, outsourced or contracted out and policy advice outsourced via consultancies.

Improvements to the whole public education system cannot be achieved by providing additional classroom teachers on the one hand and, on the other, further dismantling the infrastructure on which schools and TAFE depend, the report says.

The scale of the cuts inflicted by the Kennett government on the education system ... means there is little capacity to make further cuts.

A spokesman for Education Minister Mary Delahunty could not be contacted for comment.