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Democrats demand safer schools.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/1005 TUESDAY 5 OCTOBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS LEADER DEMOCRATS DEMAND SAFER SCHOOLS The Australian Democrats today launched their $2 billion-a-year schools strategy which would deliver truly needs-based funding, safer schools and raise the level of school facilities and buildings to national standard. Launching the Schools Funding strategy today in Adelaide, Democrats’ Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett, said the major parties education policies had failed to address the real needs within schools including the protection of students against physical and emotional abuse. "The Coalition is making funding conditional on schools having flagpoles but are offering nothing new to protect our children from sexual abuse." Senator Bartlett said despite the rhetoric on the importance of values in schools, the Coalition has provided only $4.5 million for the protection of children through implementation of the Democrat-initiated National Safe Schools Framework (NSSF), while the ALP has promised $65 million over 3 years to help schools develop strategies to improve student discipline. "Both major parties are obsessed with trying to create a class war between public and private schools. The fact is kids are abused at wealthy and poor schools and we need a national commitment to protect children. "The Australian Democrats propose $96 million per year to help create safer schools for our children," Senator Bartlett said. "The Democrats initiated the National Safe Schools Framework which includes strategies to combat bullying, harassment, violence, and child abuse and neglect. For over 18 months we have been calling for it to be properly funded by Federal and State governments." Under the Democrats proposal, Federal and State governments would provide a combined total of $10,000 to each school to assist with implementation of the guiding principles of the NSSF for the provision of a safe and supportive school environment. "The ALP’s offer of $100 million over 5 years for buildings and facilities is ridiculously inadequate and the Coalition’s $700 million offer for government schools is designed to bypass State departments, requiring a massive new Federal bureaucracy," Senator Bartlett said. "A thorough national audit of all school buildings and resources is needed to establish how best to address schools’ needs and develop a national standard." Continued

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The Democrats plan also calls for:

• Free and universally available preschool for all 3 and 4 year old children, with the priority on ensuring access to free preschool for Indigenous children;

• A Commonwealth/State Government schools funding agreement that establishes a funding benchmark for government schools and increases funding to at least the average for OECD countries;

• A $400 million per year Educational Need Supplement for primary schools distributed on the basis of the number of educationally disadvantaged children in a school;

• Increasing the Commonwealth per capita funding for primary schools to 10% of primary Average Government School Recurrent Costs at a cost of $93 million;

• Additional teacher training places and ongoing professional development and support networks;

• Wage and conditions parity for preschool teachers;

• Greater funding for government schools based on educational need; and

• Replacement of the SES funding model for non-government schools with one that factors in whole-of-school income and assets, exclusion practices and the relative educational disadvantages of students.

Summary proposed spending on Schools per year:

Free preschool - $430 m

Educational Need Supplement for primary schools - $400 m

Increasing per capita funding - $93 m

Funding for National Safe Schools Framework - $48 m

(matched by $48m from States)

Buildings and needs-based increase in funding $1 billion

(matched by another $1 billion from States) for government schools

Total $1.97 billion

Media Contact for Senator Bartlett - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649

Hyperlinks to Democrats issue sheets - Schools Funding; Student Organisations ; TAFE; Higher Education; Preschool