Tasmania’s delegation to the AEU Federal Conference held in Melbourne recently was told of the huge benefits being delivered by Gonski funding and how our successful “I Give a Gonski” campaign will be ramping up ahead of the Federal election.

The annual Federal Conference, held 26-28 February, allowed delegates from all states and territories to meet and share strategies around the important next phases of the TAFE and Gonski campaigns.

Delegates Roz Madsen, Mandy Jackson, Michelle Purdy, Adam Clifford and observers Helen Richardson and Harriet Binet listened to a range of speakers and attended workshops covering the broad range of issues affecting educators in public schools, TAFEs and early childhood education.

Labor leader Bill Shorten addressed the conference and passionately reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to the full six years of Gonski. Greens leader Richard Di Natale told the conference that the Greens also supported equitable funding for all our schools. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined the invitation to appear.

Principals from NSW and Queensland told their schools’ Gonski stories, highlighting the differences that Gonski funding has made for their students, and how they would be able to do much more with the full six years of Gonski funding.

Mansfield State High School in Brisbane has 40 per cent of its students speaking a language other than English at home, and with targeted literacy and support programs has managed to record the highest NAPLAN results of any school in its area. It has also recorded its best ever Year 12 results in 2015.

Casino Public School (NSW) has targeted literacy programs and additional support staff which have now seen every child in its Kindergarten class meet expectations for reading and comprehension with many K-2 students making 18 months’ progress in a year. The school has also been able to use Gonski to successfully focus on lifting results for its Indigenous students.

The AEU has launched a national advertising campaign (TV and print) to secure bi-partisan support for the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding. This builds on the target seat campaign which has seen full-time co-ordinators working to build support for Gonski funding in local communities.

Conference delegates discussed the latest developments in the StopTAFECuts campaign and how to defend TAFEs from privatisation and the impact of the flawed VET FEE-HELP scheme.

Delegates were left with an overwhelming sense of urgency!  Our priority from now to the Federal Election is to campaign to secure bi-partisan support for the Gonski needs based funding model.