Since the release of the Victorian Budget on Tuesday, we’ve taken the time to go through the budget papers with a fine-tooth comb to find all of the funding announcements, policy initiatives and figures that will affect school-aged students across Victoria.
You might have been hearing a lot of talk about the budget in recent weeks, especially because this year’s budget was considered a ‘tough’ one for many people as the Victorian Government makes a special effort to repay the debt it accumulated
Despite that, this year’s budget is a pretty good one for Victorian students. Overall education spending grew by 11% - so no major cuts for students this time around! You can read VicSRC’s initial analysis, published last week, right here. Our Student Executive, Billy, also penned his thoughts about what he’d like to see in this year’s budget before it was released, which you can take a look at right here.
We’ve broken up this analysis into themes most relevant to primary and secondary school students and their education in Victoria.
Let’s dive in!
P.S. Want to get a student’s perspective on what this budget means for students? Our Student Executive, Grace, can help with that. Take a look here!
The state government will provide an overall investment of $3.1 billion in school infrastructure and development to boost the number of Victorian schools, provide upgrades to existing schools, and develop six new tech schools across the state. Spending includes:
$741.4 million over four years for six new schools to open in 2025 and an additional three schools in 2026.
$266 million over four years across 43 schools to upgrade school classrooms and facilities.
$116 million over four years to build six new tech schools across Victoria.
$3.6 million over four years to establish a new school at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
The Andrews government committed to building 100 new schools in Victoria by 2026. Given we’re expecting more than 170,000 additional school-aged children in Victoria by 2041, these funding announcements are a significant step towards that goal and work to ensure that Victoria is ready for its growing student population in coming years
Access and Inclusion
This year’s budget contained quite a bit of new support for students with disabilities and their families, which was another election commitment of the Andrews Government. The budget will provide a new $235 million package over four years to help students living with disability, their carers and families. This funding includes:
$122 million over four years to expand out-of-hours care to 30 specialist schools.
Delivering more extra-curricular activities and recruiting more occupational therapists in specialist schools, including $25 million over four years to build therapy pools at specialist schools and $7.5 million to get more speech pathologists and occupational therapists into regional schools.
New NDIS Navigators (specialised NDIS support people) to work with families to navigate the system.
$3.8 million over four years for new incentives for staff to work in rural and regional specialist schools.
Transport and infrastructure
$31.9 million for 2023-24 to keep the Students with Disabilities Transport Program going. This program helps to get students with disability to school and home every day.
Another $10 million grant round for the Inclusive Schools Fund will provide small building projects to promote inclusion of students of all abilities in mainstream school environments.
Support Programs for Disadvantaged Students and Families
$168.7 million over four years from 2023-24 to 2026-27 will support the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund so students from disadvantaged backgrounds can engage in these activities. This will help to make sure that no student misses out on fun school-based activities because they can’t afford it.
$105.4 million over four years for the School Breakfast Clubs program, Affordable School Uniforms initiative and Glasses for Kids Program, so students have the essentials to engage in school.
$20.1 million over four years to continue funding and expand a suite of refugee education support programs for students from refugee backgrounds. This funding will help to make sure that students of refugee backgrounds feel comfortable, supported, and confident at school.
$13.3 million over four years will help to offer education programs for young people who are at-risk of disengaging from school. This funding is targeted towards helping students from African and Pasifika backgrounds to stay engaged in school.
$19.9 million over four years will be invested in helping the government understand the pathways young people take when they disengage from school, which will help them to find better ways to help re-engage students with learning.
$15.5 million over four years will continue providing Victorian students with free period products at government schools. This money will also help to provide pelvic pain education programs to 100 government schools per year.
Rural and Regional
$4.7 million over two years will be provided to continue the government’s work in supporting regional and rural students. These investments help to facilitate positive learning outcomes for those students and the money will help to:
Increase collaboration between regional and rural schools with the creation of new regional school clusters.
Provide regional and rural students with new learning opportunities in science and the arts.
Raise student expectations and aspirations through new programs including role modelling, mentoring and exposure to diverse post-school pathways.
$3.8 million over four years will allow the government to continue providing free books for students starting prep.
Mental Health in Schools
$10.6 million over four years will be provided to boost anti-bullying initiatives in schools across the state. This includes expanding support for I CAN, an autistic-led group mentoring program to help autistic students feel comfortable and confident at school. The money will also help to continue and expand the Safe Schools program, and the Be Wise program to help prevent social violence.
An additional $2.8 million over four years has been provided to support the ongoing implementation of the Schools Mental Health Fund, which is part of the Victorian Government’s $217 million investment over four years to support student mental health.
Employment Pathways and VET
$19.1 million over five years from 2022-23 to 2026-27 will support 10,000 students to undertake work experience placements in in-demand areas like clean energy. This funding will also be used to provide more training for school staff to deliver high quality career education, including targeted investments for students who are currently missing out on these opportunities.
Improvements to career education is something VicSRC has been advocating for in recent months, and we are glad to see some investment in this area which we hope will work to address some of our concerns.
$6.1 million over four years from 2023-24 to introduce a clean energy VET pathway subject to the VCE Vocational Major from 2024, which will provide a new option for Victorian students who are interested in studying clean energy and have an interest in a clean energy career.
$8.3 million per year for 2023-24 and 2024-25 will support the Student Excellence Program in government primary and secondary schools to support high ability learners to achieve their greatest potential.
Initiatives from other areas of Government
$23.4 million over four years has been provided to continue support for young Victorians who are at-risk of disengagement from the community. Initiatives supported through this funding include:
Continued funding for Marram Nganyin, a community-led youth-mentoring initiative for Aboriginal young people,
Culturally tailored support for young people from African and Pasifika backgrounds, which includes a focus on improved education and employment opportunities.
In addition, $1 million over two years has been provided to upgrade facilities and improve accessibility for six Scouts Victoria groups and to support Fusion to deliver housing support and school-based mentoring programs to young people on the Mornington Peninsula.
This year's state budget delivered some strong support for Victorian students at a time when budget pressure is forcing the Government to make difficult choices. We're pleased that the State Government has chosen to maintain its investment in Victorian students this year, and VicSRC will continue to advocate in the coming year to ensure that next year's state budget delivers even larger wins for Victorian students.