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Catholic schools request more state funds for disabled students

Catholic schools in Victoria say they are being forced to take money out of class programs and other resources to redress State Government funding shortfalls for disabled students.

Principals say many schools are suffering, with the lack of money for integration support putting pressure on teachers, class sizes and parents' fees.

The Bracks Government has given about $130 million to non-government schools since coming to office. But figures show that Victorian Catholic schools - which are also funded through fees and Commonwealth grants - receive up to $338 per student less in state funding than those in NSW, and less than the national average.

Catholic Education Office director Susan Pascoe (pictured) said Catholic schools received an average $5249 per disabled student each year to support them, while state schools were getting about $12,972 a year.

"You can only carry that kind of underfunding for so long, and then there's a point at which you have to say this is not fair," she said. "Students with disabilities should not be prevented from coming to Catholic schools because there aren't enough resources."

The Catholic sector has called for extra money. A spokesman for Education Minister Lynne Kosky said Victoria should not have to "fill the gaps" left by the Federal Government.

The Age

Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Melbourne)
National Catholic Education Commission | Submission to the Productivity Commission Review of the Disability Discrimination Act (Cth) 1992 (PDF)

20 Aug 2003