Organisations unite to defend equity programs

David Ferguson
City Organiser

Education and community organisations are set to meet to consider the implications for equity programs of the school funding reforms agreed between the Federal and NSW governments.

The meeting follows a forum that was held at Teachers Federation House in Sydney on April 4, that saw a broad range of organisations come together to discuss how to defend equity programs from NSW Government cuts.

The forum included representatives from the Public Schools Principals Forum, Arab Council Australia, NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, Refugee Council of Australia, Welfare Rights Centre, NSW Primary Principals’ Association, Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW, Federation of P&C Associations of NSW, University of NSW and Federation.

Federation President Maurie Mulheron provided an overview of the political context in which the cuts to equity and access programs are occurring. He explained that the education system is facing a structural change in funding designed to cap and reduce expenditure, through the State Government’s Local Schools, Local Decisions policy. There is a need for community and education organisations to work together to maintain existing equity programs that support students from low socioeconomic status communities, migrant and refugee backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and geographically isolated communities, he said.

Those at the meeting agreed to continue to work together in campaigning. Federation will consider undertaking some of the actions suggested by participants at the meeting, such as enlisting academics to produce research, producing easy to understand community flyers and translating information to better engage all community members.

Federation May Council included the following as part of the Putting Students First campaign decision: “Following on from the successful Equity Forum held on 4 April, Federation will continue to work with community organisations and groups in the campaign to maintain existing equity programs that support students... Federation will pursue further negotiations with the Department and the Ministry on the maintenance of equity programs, in light of the Gonski funding agreement.”