The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) is seeking urgent talks with the Federal Government over the detail of the new education funding announcement.
“It appears that a majority of the 24 schools targeted by the Minister for a cut in funding are independent Catholic schools,” acting Executive Director of NCEC, Danielle Cronin said.
“Worse, the Federal Government is forcing Catholic schools to abandon a mechanism that ensures resources are distributed fairly and according to need among schools that belong to a single Catholic schools authority.”
Known as the System Weighted Average, the mechanism allows Catholic schools authorities to spread resources across diverse school communities, Cronin said.
“The System Weighted Average, which the Government wants to phase out over 10 years, is integral to the efficient and equitable functioning of the Catholic education system.
“We are concerned that Catholic schools in some states and territories may be forced to raise fees as a result of this Government’s funding changes.
“We urge the Prime Minister to enter into meaningful negotiations with the Catholic sector.”
However, ABC's Lateline revealed documents showing that NSW Catholic schools' funding was being directed towards schools closer to Sydney rather than those schools in rural areas who potentially needed it more.
In response to NCEC's claims, Birmingham said at a press conference, "There is no justification for claims that there may need to be fee increases.
"We don't intend to make changes that favour one state or one sector or one system over another."