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Free Education for All

Scrap Public School Fees

School is too expensive. Each year, South Australian parents are being slugged hundreds of dollars for the Materials and Service charge alone. This is before additional subject fees and essential items like textbooks, laptops, uniforms and stationery. Data from the Futurity Investment Group found that SA families are paying more than $86,000 to put a child through public school from reception to year 12 and a separate survey from the Smith Family shows that school fees left 11% of Australian parents struggling to afford food.

Education should be for free, no matter who you are. The Greens have pushed to scrap public school fees altogether and introduced legislation to ban the charging of compulsory or volunteer student fees. This will relieve the pressure on parents struggling in this cost-of-living crisis and ensure that all SA schoolkids have equal access the education that they deserve.

Transparency for Private Schools

Private schools currently receive $290 million dollars in State Government funding each year, but unlike public schools there is no requirement for private schools to report on how the money is being spent or to disclose information about students and staff. Many of those private schools also run significant fundraising and advertising operations, and some elite private schools are even building luxury facilities like new swimming pools. The public has a right to know if taxpayer money is being used to subsidise these kinds of activities.

I’ve introduced a bill to require private schools to publicly report data each year detailing income from all sources and expenditure on all purposes, student attendance rates, complaints about student behaviour and professional behaviour, fee structure, and key workforce information. You can watch my speech introducing the bill here.

Free School Breakfast and Lunches

In a wealthy state like South Australia no child should go hungry, but thousands of South Australian kids are living in poverty. Kids who don’t have lunch or breakfast find it much harder to concentrate, socialise and learn, with worse educational outcomes as a result.

I’ve called on the State Government to introduce a universal, free school breakfast and lunch program in every state primary and secondary school in South Australia funded by a levy on the major banks. This would reduce pressure on parents, improve educational outcomes and ensure that every South Australian child has access to healthy, nutritious food and can realise their full potential in the classroom. You can read more here and here.

Schools provide lunches in Japan, Norway, and France – why not here in SA?

Supporting Our Teachers

After years of COVID, the pressure on teachers is higher than ever, yet they continue to be undervalued and underpaid. Last year, the Greens stood in solidarity with public school teachers and support staff when they took industrial action over the State Government’ refusal to meet the AEU’s enterprise bargaining demands a reduction in workloads and a salary offer to address with the crisis in the recruitment and retention of SA’s teachers.

In Parliament, we called for reducing face-to-face teaching by 20 per cent to eliminate excessive and unsustainable workloads, an additional School Services Officer in every classroom to provide school students with necessary learning support; and a salary rise of 20 per cent over three years to attract and retain public school educators. You can watch my speech here.

Cracking Down on Junk Food Advertising

Junk food has a terrible impact on community health. Obesity is becoming a growing issue among young people and junk food advertising pitches parents in a David and Goliath fight – where they are competing with multi-million-dollar corporations who are intent on selling products to their children.

In 2022 introduced a bill to ban junk food advertising within 500 metres of SA schools, on bus stops and railway stations and other public buildings. Given the role of junk food in obesity and disease, it is totally inappropriate for these products to be promoted to school children on publicly owned property and buildings. The Government has indicated that it will be moving to establish a working group involving Health and Transport to consider the issue, and we’ll continue to pressure the Government to crack down on junk food advertising to our kids.