The 2015 Budget is part of the Commonwealth Government’s plan to build a strong, safe and prosperous future for all Australians.
The Government is delivering more opportunities for Australians to access a lifetime of learning from preschool to university.
From the earliest age, young Australians will get the best possible start to learning through the Government’s $840 million commitment over two years to ensure families continue to have access to a preschool programme for up to 600 hours in the year before full-time school.
For schools across Australia, the 2015 Budget delivers record funding including needs based funding of more than $69.5 billion over the forward estimates.
Under the Students First arrangements in 2015–16, a record $15.7 billion will be provided for both government and non-government schools in all states and territories.
Total Commonwealth funding for schools across Australia will increase by $4.1 billion, a 27.9 per cent increase from 2014–15 to 2018–19.
Students with a disability will receive the extra support they need with a record $1.3 billion being provided in 2015–16, and more than $5 billion over 2014–17 through the funding loading for students with a disability.
From 2016, for the first time ever, Commonwealth funding will be informed by the National Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) so that all students with disability are funded on the same basis, regardless of the state or territory in which they live.
To support our schools to be the best they can be, we will be providing $16.9 million to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership over the next four years to help implement the Australian Government’s response to the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) Report, Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers.
Beyond the school classroom this Government remains committed to quality and equity in higher education, ongoing funding for research excellence and a strong vocational education and training system that is both world class and sustainable.
In Skills and Training, the Government has embarked on a significant reform agenda for the sector, including better governance, introduction of a unique student identifier, a new model for supporting Australian Apprentices and their employers, a contestable model for training packages and a review of the system’s training products.
There are also several major initiatives underway with Trade Support Loans for apprentices, and the $664 million over five years Industry Skills Fund supporting businesses to ensure that their staff have the skills required to make their business grow.
In research, this Government will invest $10.7 billion over the forward estimates in the Education and Training portfolio alone. This includes funding of $300 million to secure the jobs of 1700 highly skilled technical and research staff critical to the ongoing operations of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) for the next two years to 30 June 2017. NCRIS was left without ongoing funding by the previous government.
The NCRIS extension will allow the completion of the research infrastructure review due to report to Government in mid-2015. The review will provide a solid base for Government to plan for future national scale research infrastructure to support priority areas of research of national significance.
The Government will be requiring Australian graduates with HECS debts who are living overseas to make the HECS debt repayments they would make if they lived in Australia. Only graduates earning over the repayment income threshold (currently around $53,000 a year) will be expected to make repayments. Australians living overseas are currently not expected to make HECS debt repayments, no matter how high their incomes.
The Government will be inviting bids from universities to run a new $28 million institute to promote high quality teaching and learning in Australian universities. The new institute will allow the sector itself to lead the promotion of excellence and creativity in learning and teaching.
As well as providing $5.4 million to extend the Indigenous Boarding Initiative throughout the 2015 and 2016 school years, the Government will provide an additional $5 million in 2015–16 to support the crucial work of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in the preservation of Australian Indigenous cultural heritage.
The 2015 Budget invests in education from preschool to postgraduate studies, as part of the Government’s commitment to increase opportunity, improve and safeguard quality and excellence in education.