Government removes $1.3m from Youth Off The Streets’ Schools annually
The Australian government will deny disadvantaged students $1.3 million of support and education every year. The government has introduced a new funding model for disabled students that leaves organisations like Youth Off The Streets with 30% less funding for schools and over $600,000 in debt.
The government has introduced a new disability classification system that will negatively impact Youth Off The Streets’ education funding by $1.3m a year. On 19 November 2017, Youth Off The Streets received advice from the Department of Education and Training around an estimate of school funding for the coming year: allowing the organisation to plan accordingly. A short 10 months later, the Department informed Youth Off The Streets that, based on the revised funding model, they had been overpaid and they were advised of the requirement to pay back $631,406.
It was a crushing blow to Youth Off The Streets who were well underway to opening a new school in Logan, Queensland in 2019 to meet demand from young people there. It has forced the organisation to review their plans including a possible cut to services in their schools says Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets.
“We work with vulnerable kids that have disengaged from mainstream education. This cut to our funding will devastate the service we offer these young people and it will devastate their future,” says Father Chris Riley.
Father Chris Riley also said the new funding model does not provide an in-depth understanding of the unmet needs for students with disabilities particularly relating to the effects of exposure to trauma. If these kids aren’t given an education then it will cost the government a lot more than $1.3m a year. A study released by the Mitchell Group in June 2017 found that early school leavers cost governments and communities more than $580 million annually and more than $23 billion over a lifetime.
“The new classification takes a very narrow view of disability. Our kids may be dealing with trauma, substance use issues, domestic and family violence issues, and homelessness. The classification doesn’t factor in their circumstances. They need the specialised care we give in our schools and the government has effectively removed that from them. This change will cost the government a lot more in the long run if these kids are denied an education and are denied their full potential.”
“I’m attempting to meet with the Education Minister and the Prime Minister this week to address our concerns. The previous funding reflected the care our students depend on and I’m determined to make sure we don’t leave any young people without a chance at an education,” he says.
Youth Off The Streets operates five special assistance schools across six campuses. The impact of reduced funding will be felt in the classroom as the high teacher to student ratio will have to be adjusted says Father Chris Riley.
“Our schools provide a greater level of care through high teacher to student ratios. It means more one on one care is given to each student. If we lose that, then we will lose our young people. They’re at our school because the mainstream system didn’t look after them, they’ve come to us because they need special care and now the government is removing our ability to do that,” he says.
Youth Off The Streets wants the new funding model to consider young people dealing with trauma and issues outside of the classroom. The funding model needs to address young people with special needs and those at special assistance schools or thousands of kids will go without an education