Education union targets Colac

Gellibrand’s Lorna Jemmett, second from left, with AEU campaigners Jeff Slingsby, Brian Henderson, Mary Bluett and Marg Pekin.

THE Australian Education Union has targeted Colac in a campaign for more funding for public schools.

Campaigners have handed out postcards in Colac, encouraging people to contact Member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman in support of boosting school funding.

AEU Victorian president Mary Bluett was among the campaigners, who visited in the wake of a government report calling for a $5-billion boost in school funding.

“This is one of five marginal seats in Victoria that we’ve been targeting around this review into education funding,” Ms Bluett said.

The Federal Government released an 18-month review into the education system on Monday.

Ms Bluett said the Gonski review highlighted under-funding in public schools.

“The report is recommending a major increase in funding, $5 billion nationally per annum,” she said.

“We welcome that report, but we have been a bit disappointed that the Prime Minister has said that there’s now going to be a period of consultation and community discussion.

“And in our view after 18 months, all of the consultation has occurred; it’s really time for the politicians to act.”

Colac West Primary School principal Barrie Speight said AEU members spoke with staff while they visited Colac.

“They spoke about the issues, and our staff unanimously agreed this is a national issue that everybody needs to be aware of,” he said.

“This is what our staff were saying, ‘the future of Australia depends on children having opportunity and opportunity is broadened with better funding’.

“The issue is that all children should be getting equal access to high-quality education.”

Ms Bluett said Colac West Primary School had received additional Federal Government funding to help pupils improve literacy.

“The last couple of years they’ve had some additional funding from the Federal Government to run intervention programs to support those students,” Ms Bluett said.

“We need that money ongoing,” she said.

Mr Speight said that if the government had recognised a need at the school for the extra funding, the cash should be part of regular school allocations.

“It just flies in the face of common sense that that funding comes to an end after 12 months,” he said.

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