State Budget fails Tasmanian students and educators

The State Budget’s failure to deliver for students and schools is a step backwards in the state’s economic rebuild and will worsen Tasmania’s chronic teacher shortage.

The Australian Education Union Tasmania has slammed Thursday’s Budget hand-down for failing to address the growing issues threatening student learning and leaving schools funded below the minimum national funding benchmark.

Education is the single most powerful driver for improving economic and social outcomes in Tasmania, including health, life expectancy, happiness and productivity.

AEU Tasmania President David Genford said the state government should be investing more in public education to strengthen Tasmania for future generations.

“But instead, this government has blatantly ignored the ongoing stresses and untenable working conditions our educators are facing day in, day out,” he said. 

“It was the educators in our schools that have helped us through COVID, but instead of being recognised, they have seemingly been forgotten about. We cannot continue to ask our educators to work beyond their means without the in-class support they are crying out for.”

“This Budget fails to have the foresight to address our teacher shortage and won’t help our teachers who are suffering from extreme workload concerns.

“This was an opportunity missed by the Government, as teachers and support staff now will continue working in a system that leaves every school and every child nearly ten percent short of the minimum funding they need.”

Mr Genford said while some small increases to trauma and disability funding were welcome, the state’s teacher and support staff shortage would get worse before it gets better if the Government continued short-changing students.

“Children are forced to wait 18 months or more to see a school psychologist or speech pathologist, but this Budget offers nothing to change that.”

“Tasmanian teachers are the lowest paid nationally, and we’re hearing increasing cases of teacher burnout and heightened stress levels” he said.

“At a time when far less young Tasmanians are commencing education degrees and one in three teachers are leaving the profession in their first five years, we can’t afford to ignore the ballooning teaching crisis or we will risk more talented teachers leaving the profession.”

Mr Genford welcomed investment in TAFE but said the state government’s privatisation plans for the public education institution were a slap in the face to hardworking TasTAFE teachers and staff.

“Given the current difficulty in attracting TasTAFE teachers from industry, the Government’s privatisation plans and attacks on conditions will make it impossible to attract the promised 100 extra TAFE teachers.”

“The Government needs to sit down with us, with teachers and with staff to fix the mess they’re making and ensure important investments are not wasted.”

“The Government promised Centres of Excellence, but that’s champagne spin on a beer budget – TAFE infrastructure remains underfunded and lacks consultation with teachers.”