This budget, once again, delivers record Commonwealth funding for schools with total Commonwealth funding to non-government schools of $17.4 billion in 2023-24, rising to $19.3 billion in 2026-27.
This funding is, of course, simply the continuation of the current legislated funding model.
The Government in this Budget will provide $105.9 million over 4 years from 2023–24 to strengthen the Education portfolio’s capability to deliver critical functions, including program administration.
Department of Education documents indicate 'To ensure funding is used for the purpose intended and reduce payment integrity risks, the Government will implement further safeguards to strengthen policy and financial assurance and compliance oversight in the non-government school sector'. The Budget papers predict that the Department will save $1.9 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $1.1 million per year ongoing) by recovering overpayments and improving funding integrity in non-government schools.
Further savings include $11.3 million over 4 years from 2022–23 from uncommitted funding in the National School Reform Fund and the Quality Outcomes Program.
Early Education and Care
To complement the Cheaper Child Care reforms previously announced, a further $72.4 million will be invested in early education workforce measures, including:
• $34.4 million over 5 years from 2022–23 to subsidise ECEC services to backfill up to 75,000 early childhood educators, early childhood teachers and centre directors to undertake mandatory or highly recommended training, or to pay an allowance to the educator if training is undertaken outside work hours;
• $33.1 million over 5 years from 2022–23 to provide financial assistance for up to 6,000 educators in the ECEC sector to undertake a paid practicum in initial teacher education courses at a bachelor or post-graduate level, and
• $4.8 million over 5 years from 2022–23 to support up to 2,000 ECEC workers to undertake a practicum exchange at a different service, with a living allowance for students undertaking a practicum in a rural or remote location.
Engaged Classrooms initiative
The Government announced last week a $3.5 million project which 'will use the latest evidence to help guide teachers to deliver routines, strategies and approaches that maximise student engagement in their classrooms'.
The Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) will be provided the funding to design a suite of resources to support classroom engagement and professional learning for teachers and school leaders along the lines outlined here.
Teacher Shortage Measures
The Government has previously announced a $328 million investment to tackle teacher shortages, which includes:
• 4,000 additional university places for Initial Teacher Education
• funding for 5,000 scholarships and the High Achieving Teachers program to attract more high-quality candidates into teaching
• $25 million over four years from 2022-23 for a new fund to work with states and territories to trial innovative ways to reduce teacher workload
• $10 million over two years from 2022-23 for a national communications campaign to raise the status of the teaching profession
• $10 million to support teachers in phonics, classroom behaviour management and expand access to quality professional development.
In this Budget, the Government will provide a further $9.3 million over the forward estimates to implement a package of measures as part of its priority to address teacher shortages. This includes:
• $4.0 million over 2023-24 to 2025-26 to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership to develop national guidelines for early career teachers and new school leaders including mentoring and induction, and to develop and support career pathways that value teachers
• $3.0 million over 2023-24 to 2024-25 to the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority to support delivery of the national curriculum
• $2.3 million from 2023-24 to 2026-27 to support the successful implementation of the action plan to ensure it leads to improvements to the teacher workforce.
2023 Federal Budget - Measures Impacting Schools
There are few general measures in the Budget which will, subject of course to legislation being passed, potentially impact schools:
Online Safety and Privacy
The Government will provide an additional $134.1 million over 4 years (and $33.7 million per year ongoing, in addition to the existing base funding of $10.3 million per year ongoing) for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to continue to support Australians online, including through enhanced educational, outreach and investigatory activities. In addition, The Government will provide $7.9 million over 4 years from 2023–24 for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to combat online misinformation and disinformation on global digital platforms to reduce the spread of harmful content.
Privacy compliance activities will be stepped up with an additional $44.3 million over 4 years from 2023‐24 for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to support a standalone Privacy Commissioner, progress investigations and enforcement action in response to privacy and data breaches, and enhance its data and analytics capability.
Electric Car Discounts
The Government will sunset the eligibility of plug-in hybrid electric cars from the fringe benefits tax exemption for eligible electric cars. This change will apply from 1 April 2025.
Arrangements involving plug-in hybrid electric cars entered into between 1 July 2022 and 31 March 2025 remain eligible for the Electric Car Discount.
Introduction of 'payday superannuation'
From 1 July 2026, employers will be required to pay their employees’ SG entitlements on the same day that they pay salary and wages.
Currently, employers are only required to pay their employees’ SG on a quarterly basis. By increasing the payment frequency of superannuation to align with the payment of salary and wages, this measure is intended to both ensure employees have greater visibility over whether their entitlements have been paid and better enable the ATO to recover unpaid superannuation. Increased frequency of payment will also support better retirement outcomes.
A 1 July 2026 commencement date will allow the ATO, payroll service providers and superannuation funds time to make necessary system changes and for employers to adjust their cash flow practices.
National Redress Scheme
The Government will provide additional funding of $142.2 million over 5 years from 2023–24 for continued implementation of the National Redress Scheme for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (the Scheme). This will allow the processing of a greater-than-expected number of applications and provide continued funding to Redress Support Services.
2023 Federal Budget - General Measures Affecting Your Community
The cornerstone of this budget is what the Government is describing as their 'Cost of Living Relief' which includes:
• Providing energy bill relief to 5 million households and 1 million small businesses
• Helping 170,000 households save on energy bills by financing energy saving home upgrades
• Reducing out-of-pocket health costs by tripling bulk billing incentives and investing in more bulk billing Urgent Care Clinics
• Cutting the cost of medicine by up to half for at least 6 million Australians
• Supporting 57,000 single parents by expanding eligibility for Parenting Payment (Single)
• Responsibly increasing the base rate for JobSeeker and other payments for 1.1 million people
• Increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance for 1.1 million households
• Tax breaks to ensure more investment in build-to-rent projects
• Delivering a 15 per cent pay rise on award wages for aged care workers and getting wages moving again.
More details of the general measures are found in the Budget Overview available here.
2023 Federal Budget - Australian Economic Outlook
The Government has forecast an underlying cash balance surplus of $4.2 billion for 2022-23. This is significantly better than the $36.9 billion deficit that was forecast in last October’s Budget. This turnaround was in large part due to increases in revenue from the high price of commodities and increases in revenue from taxation due to the low unemployment rate.
According to the Treasurer, inflation peaked at the end of 2022 and is now moderating.
The tight labour market has persisted but is expected to gradually soften in response to slowing demand. Employment growth will be supported by stronger migration, with a projected increase of 1 per cent in 2023–24. The unemployment rate is expected to increase modestly from a near 50 year low of 3.5 per cent to 4¼ per cent by the June quarter of 2024, and 4½ per cent in the June quarter of 2025.
The strength of recent labour market outcomes is flowing through to wages, with growth projected to reach 4 per cent in 2023–24, its fastest pace since 2009. Wage growth is expected to remain robust at 3¼ per cent in 2024–25, materially faster than the outcomes achieved in the decade prior to the pandemic.