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 schools are suffering the most.

The Morrison government has all but abandoned public education, while investing billions into the private sector. By 2023, only 1% of Australia’s public schools will be funded at the minimum Schooling Resource Standard (SRS). Meanwhile, all private schools will be funded at or well above this minimum funding benchmark.

Public schools educate the majority of children, including 80% of our most disadvantaged. And yet, they face a $19 billion funding shortfall. Victoria’s public school students are the lowest funded in the country, receiving an average $1,354 less than the national average.

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 inequity in our education system.

Teachers are doing an average 15 hours of unpaid work per week. Principals work an average 60-hour week. This leads to stress and burnout, with a third of teachers now thinking of leaving the profession.

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

After eight years of campaigning, our Preschool Funding Now! campaign secured ongoing federal funding for 15 hours of preschool for all four-year-olds. But the Morrison government is resisting our calls for this investment to be extended to three-year-olds.

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. But the latest OECD data shows that Australia’s children are at risk of being left behind.

Australia spends half the OECD average of GDP on pre-primary education for three to five-year-olds; we have the fourth highest level of parent fees; and we rank a lowly 41 out of 44 OECD nations on preschool attendance in the year before school.

The Andrews state government has committed to funding its share of 15 hours a week of preschool education for every three and four-year old. Now we need the federal Morrison government to do the same.

Standing up for TAFE

Australia’s TAFE system is under threat. TAFE has suffered over $3 billion in federal government cuts since 2013. Instead of investing in our public TAFE system, the Morrison government has funnelled millions of taxpayer dollars into the under-regulated private sector.

The contestable funding system – which forces TAFE to compete with private businesses for government funding – has led to a flood of private training organisations accessing public funds to run courses for profit and driving down quality across the sector. Most of these companies fail to offer any of the safeguards and supports provided by TAFE to ensure students complete their course with high-quality skills that meet industry needs.

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 these shortages, meet workforce demands and provide opportunities for millions of Australians.

A recent report from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work found that TAFEs play a vital role in the economy, contributing more than $92.5 billion a year.

While the Andrews state government has invested heavily in TAFE, Victoria is recovering from decades of chronic underfunding. Victorian TAFEs still receive the lowest rate per student hour in the country. As a result, almost all of the state’s TAFE institutes are struggling to meet the basic costs of delivery.

We need state and federal governments to restore TAFE to its central position in our vocational education sector. More than ever, investing in TAFE means investing in a positive future for Australia.