Budget boost for Adventist schools but foreign aid cut

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The 2017 Federal Budget, handed down by Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday, is beneficial for Adventist schools but continues the decline in Australia’s overseas aid expenditure.

While Adventist Education leaders have applauded the Government’s new approach to school funding, ADRA Australia has expressed disappointment at the cuts to foreign aid.

Responding to the changes to school funding, Adventist Schools Australia national director Dr Daryl Murdoch said it was a long overdue and much-needed review.

“The Turnbull Government is to be applauded for its courage in addressing a broad range of funding anomalies to create a fair, sector-blind approach to schools funding,” he said.

“Overall, Adventist Education stands to benefit considerably. There are a few schools where there may be some short-term impact. These are a small group of schools, which tend to be in high socio-economic areas. However, the majority of our schools and school companies will benefit significantly over the next decade.”

According to the Government’s online School Funding Estimator, Adventist schools across Australia will be better off, but much of the expected increase is simply CPI adjustment. Real clarity around any firm increase will only emerge as the dust settles. It should also be noted that the legislation is yet to go before the Parliament so these figures could be subject to change.

If all goes to plan, however, the injection of funds will provide certainty in relation to school funding for the next decade, according to Dr Murdoch.

“This will allow schools to plan strategically to strengthen the delivery of quality Adventist education,” he said.

“We applaud the additional $A300m over the decade in capital funding to enable independent schools to expand capacity to provide choice and diversity in the Australian education landscape.”

"The majority of our schools and school companies will benefit significantly over the next decade."

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the new fairer, needs-based funding arrangement will see record investment in schools.

“It will ensure that students with the same need in the same sector will attract the same level of support from the Commonwealth,” he said.

However, ADRA Australia has expressed disappointment in the Budget in the wake of further cuts to the overseas aid program.

The Government announced that the aid budget would rise with inflation for the next two years, however the following two years will see a budget freeze, resulting in a $A303 million cut.

ADRA Australia CEO Mark Webster said the decision was disappointing.

“Maintaining historically low levels of aid means Australia is contributing less than our fair share,” Mr Webster said. “Australia is a generous nation and we believe our Government’s priorities should reflect this.

“Australian aid has achieved a lot of good, and goodwill, so it is disappointing to see this impact challenged by the projected cuts to the aid program.”

Australia’s overseas development assistance as a percentage of national income equates to just 22 cents out of every $100.

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