*Published in The Mercury newspaper on 01/12/2022.
The Prime Minister says “education is the biggest and most powerful weapon we have against disadvantage”.
Nice words. But his Government just cut money from schools that help the most disadvantaged kids we’ve got.
These kids haven’t had a chance in life. At every turn they’ve been kicked in the teeth. Maybe they have parents who don’t give a damn. Maybe they live in care, maybe they don’t have a home at all. Their lives might have been full of abuse, drugs and violence.
Now they’re being kicked down by the Government. Funding for independent schools is being cut from January next year.
These are the schools that look after our most at-risk kids, kids who need special assistance and indigenous kids.
It’s going to hit our Tassie kids. Some schools in Tasmania will lose up to $750k. That's a huge slice of their funding.
It brings me to tears when I walk into these places. My son left school in grade eight. I wonder if it would have made a difference if these schools had been around then. If he could have had another go at things.
Schools like Indie Schools give kids hope. They give them a second chance at an education. A second chance to make something of themselves.
Indie Schools are in Devonport, Burnie, Glenorchy and Sorell. They have plans for new schools for Kingston and Launceston next year.
I’ve visited these schools. I know the value in them. I’ve looked the kids in the eye and told them I would support them.
These schools don’t just teach kids how to read and write. They teach kids about respect and hard work. How to get up again when someone knocks you down. How to live a decent life.
I say we need more of these schools, not less. I want to see them on the West Coast. I want to see them on the East Coast. I want every kid to have a chance to go there. They need their money guaranteed for the long term, not being cut.
The funding cut is at least $44m across the country. The schools have had no time to respond. They will have to let teachers go and shut the door on some of these kids. Schools say they have to start the process this week unless it’s fixed.
I met with the Minister last week and asked what the hell is going on. He says they understand the issue. That they’re working on a fix. But they can’t guarantee the schools won’t be worse off.
The bottom line is the Government is saving a huge wad of cash. $44 million isn’t small change.
But not funding these schools will cost taxpayers more in the long run. Without these schools, many of these kids face a life on welfare. They’ll probably end up in detention centers. That can cost the taxpayer over a million bucks per kid. You do the math. The waste of money runs into billions.
I’m asking the Government to do the right thing. Find the money. Fund these schools properly. Give these kids the chance they are working so hard for. Give them a fair go.
Do what you said you were going to do and help kids from disadvantaged backgrounds get an education.
I’m asking politicians to kick up a fuss and fight for these kids. They live in your electorates. They live near your offices. They are part of your community. Help them.
And I’m asking you to do the same. Call up your local MP. Let them know how you feel. Tell them that you want these kids to have a chance.
We want them to make a decent life for themselves. We value these kids more than taking money off the bottom line.
Tell your Member we want the schools’ funding to be returned. Not just for next year, but for the long haul. Tell them we want these schools to help more kids, not less. Tell them these schools are important.
This isn’t just about telling the Government how we feel.
It’s about letting the kids know we’ve got their backs.