September 16 meeting to voice cuts concerns

Maurie Mulheron

The Federal Budget brought down in May has heralded an across-the-board attack on education that includes the loss of more than 70 per cent of scheduled Gonski funding.

But many teachers will also be deeply worried about the cuts to other sectors including the loss of the Child Care Benefit and cuts to the guaranteed provision of 15 hours of quality pre-school.

As has been reported on a number of occasions, the NSW TAFE system is under direct threat by the NSW Government under a scheme called Smart and Skilled. But this will be exacerbated by federal cuts to a range of skills-based programs. Fees will increase substantially resulting in young people being forced into a cycle of debt even before they gain employment.

The university sector, already under enormous cost pressures, will see dramatic and unparalleled cuts. It has been estimated that as a result of the May Budget somewhere between 35 to 40 per cent of university places will have their funding cut. To make up for the loss of government funding, universities will be allowed to completely deregulate their fee structures which will result in huge hikes in student fees. But not only will there be a massive increase in fees, a compounding interest rate of up to 6 per cent on HECS-HELP will be imposed on existing as well as future students.

In short, from cradle to career, an entire generation will see education costs soar. As a nation we will see social and economic inequality further entrenched.

Federation, in close collaboration with our national union, the Australian Education Union, the union that covers child-care workers, United Voice, and the National Tertiary Education Union, has organised a series of public meetings in the eastern seaboard states to publicise our concerns.

The NSW event will take place on September 16 at Penrith RSL Club at 6pm. There will be a number of speakers from the different sectors: pre-school, school, TAFE and higher education. The purpose of the event is to make the community aware of the serious impact of the education cuts.

It is envisaged that this will be the first of many public meetings and forums that the education sector unions will host across the nation as opposition to the funding cuts grow.