What is the Put Education First campaign?

We are a network of parents, educators, students and community members standing together for public education in Victoria. Put Education First wants to see greater government investment in public education – kindergartens, schools and TAFEs – so that every student can thrive.

Supporting our public schools

Decades of underfunding means our public schools are doing it tough – and Victoria’s are suffering the most.

The former Morrison government all but abandoned public education, while investing billions into the private sector. Now, only 1% of Australia’s public schools are funded at the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) – the minimum funding benchmark. Meanwhile, all private schools are funded at or well above the SRS.

Australia now has entire cohort of Year 12 students who have never attended a fully funded public school.

Public schools educate the majority of children, including 80% of our most disadvantaged. And yet, they have been dealt a $19 billion shortfall in recurrent funding over the past four years. A report by economist Adam Rorris last year revealed that public schools remain underfunded by almost $6.5 billion every year.

Achieving 100% of the SRS would mean an extra $1,991 on average for each Victorian school student. Last year alone, this would have meant almost $1 million in additional funding for a school with 500 students.

Every day, staff in schools provide the high-quality education and support our kids deserve, but they have to work harder and harder to compensate for the deep funding inequities in our education system.

This has led to critical teacher shortages across the country. Almost half of teachers are now thinking of leaving the profession, with overwork, stress and burnout the main causes.

Our public schools need better state and federal funding to reduce workloads and retain experienced teachers in the profession, so that every Victorian child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Securing funding for two years of preschool

All evidence shows that two years of preschool education, delivered by qualified early childhood teachers and co-educators, start school ready to learn and with a stronger foundation for their future.

After eight years of campaigning, our Preschool Funding Now! campaign had a major win, with the Victorian and NSW governments introducing fully funded kindergarten for all children. Victoria leads the way with its plan to provide 15 hours of funded kindergarten for three-year-olds and an expansion of four-year-old kinder to 30 hours per week over the coming decade.

This important and ambitious agenda for early years education must be matched by an equally ambitious strategy for attracting and retaining staff in the sector. Victoria’s early childhood sector will need at least 11,000 additional teachers and educators over the coming decade.

Nationally, the federal government commits just half a percent of GDP to early years education; Norway and Sweden, by contrast, spend nearly 2%. This is a huge gap.

It’s time to see Victoria’s commitment to preschool education reflected across the nation.

Standing up for TAFE

While the Andrews state government has invested heavily in vocational education, Victoria’s TAFE system are recovering from decades of chronic underfunding. Our TAFEs still receive the lowest rate per student hour in the country, leaving more than half of Victoria’s TAFE institutes in deficit.

Our public TAFE system is the cornerstone of high-quality vocational education and training in Australia –and yet, it is not funded to meet the full costs of course delivery and student support services.

Currently, industries like childcare, ICT, carpentry and plumbing have significant workforce shortages, which threatens to undermine the strength of Australia’s economic recovery post-COVID. With hundreds of campuses across Australia, TAFE is perfectly positioned to address skills shortages, meet workforce demands and provide opportunities for millions of Australians.

For too long, the contestable funding system – which forces TAFE to compete with private providers for government subsidies – has led to a flood of private training organisations accessing public funds to run courses for profit and driving down quality across the sector.

We have welcomed the recent announcements of fee-free TAFE places by the Victorian and federal governments,  along with substantial investment in upgraded campuses.

Our campaigning means state and federal governments have committed to putting 70% of vocational education towards our public TAFE, so every institute can meet the full costs of delivering the high-quality skills and education that our economy so desperately needs.

More than ever, investing in TAFE means investing in a positive future for Australia.


Authorised by Meredith Peace AEU Victoria 126 Trenerry Crescent Abbotsford 3067.