May 5, 2022

S2 Ep 3 – The Federal Election

S2 Ep 3 – The Federal Election

Shane Green talks with ISV Chief Executive Michelle Green ahead of the federal election,  about the issues that matter to Independent schools, before and after polling day.


Independent Schools Victoria's 2022 federal election page

Michelle Green on Politics, principles and the vital role of Independent schools

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Transcript

Note: isPodcast is produced for listening and is designed to be heard. We encourage you to listen to the audio, as it includes emotion and emphasis that’s not on the page. While every care is taken, our transcripts may contain errors.   

Shane Green:

Welcome to this special election edition of isPodcast. I'm Shane Green from Independent Schools Victoria. Ahead of the federal election on the 21st of May, we're joined by Michelle Green, the Chief Executive of ISV, to provide her perspective on the issues that matter to Independent schools. Michelle, welcome.

Michelle Green:

Hi, Shane. What an interesting election it's proving to be.

Shane Green:

It is indeed. Michelle, let's begin by talking about where the two major parties stand in relation to Independent schools.

Michelle Green:

Well, this is actually interesting, but also very positive for us because the two major parties in the election support Independent education and the vital role that we play in educating Australian children. Alongside government and Catholic schools, of course. 

We've heard this support recently from the acting federal minister for education, Stuart Robert. We've also heard it from his opposition counterpart, Tanya Plibersek. 

They've talked about Commonwealth funding for the education of all children, including those attending Independent schools, a bipartisan support, decades of bipartisan support, actually for this core principle. Very good for us to hear and makes us feel far more comfortable as we go toward the federal election.

Shane Green:

That commitment is very important, isn't it, for parents when it comes to choosing an Independent education for their children?

Michelle Green:

That's right. It's absolutely vital because if we say that parents should be able to choose the education that best suits the needs of their child, we do need to support them financially as well as in their education. 

In Victoria, we have 154,000 students who attend our schools. Almost 360 campuses. What that means is not just the schools, not just the students, but the 20,000 staff that are delivering that education. What this shows, and shows political parties, is that more and more families are turning to Independent schools. We've seen consistent growth, not only in Victoria, but nationally. What that means is that over the past 10 years, there's been a 20% increase in enrolments in Independent schools, more than in any other school sector.

Shane Green:

Those numbers really tell a great story, Michelle. But I think it's also worth restating that every one of those schools is different.

Michelle Green:

That's true, Shane. And you could think about almost any religious and secular approach to education. And we would have a school that is right for people who make that choice. So, about 30 religious and secular approaches just within the ISV membership. It's not unusual though. This reflects the very rich diversity of our society. And I think that's why it is that our political leaders are recognising Independent schools and the vital role that they play.

Shane Green:

Michelle, let's turn to what happens after polling day. What would we like to see the next Australian government do?

Michelle Green:

There's a short term practical issue that needs to be addressed. Our schools need long term funding that's consistent, it provides certainty, matches the needs of our students, and we need to ensure that discussions around funding include funding for individuals with particular needs. And so we'll be progressing that with the government in power. However, there also needs to be a particular focus on mental health and wellbeing.

Students and teachers have endured the strain of the last two years because of COVID and lockdown and restrictions have had issues for not only dedicated staff, but also our principals. So, we really need to focus on mental health and wellbeing. And ISV will be very happy to work with anybody to see what it is that we can do to assist.

Shane Green:

And Michelle, we also know this is a long term project.

Michelle Green:

Absolutely. We know that anything that we do is not just a short term fix. It can't be. 

And whilst we've been doing some work with our communities, not only around the funding for students who have been adversely impacted, but also around what resources we can bring to bear over time to ensure that we don't have a COVID generation of children that have not only missed out, but that have not been supported post COVID or during the post COVID years.

Shane Green:

Michelle, you mentioned funding and there is a new federal funding model for Independent schools.

Michelle Green:

Yes. And it's had a negative impact for many schools, which will need to be addressed. So, we're hoping that the new government will engage with representative bodies. They need to engage with representative bodies such as ISV to ensure that we are able to continue to support national education reforms and that our members are able to do so for the benefit of their students and their communities.

Shane Green:

Michelle, of course, you've been very active in your advocacy along with ISV staff. That's been an ongoing process, hasn't it?

Michelle Green:

That's right. We will work and can work with whatever party forms government. We can work with independents. We need to build on the respectful relationships that we already have with government, because we know that our vision for an excellent education system for Australia's children is shared by many and that we stand ready to do our part to assist.

The issue for schools is that they are in local communities and they have very good relationships by and large with the politicians in their area. I know that schools have been taking a lot of our materials and raising things that are specific to them with not only sitting politicians, but also with candidates. We'll also go to meetings as we are asked. 

But the great thing about the election campaign is that our schools have very good relationships within their communities. And many of these issues are just being raised in conversations around the dinner table or in conversations at shopping centres. It's a good thing to see.

Shane Green:

Michelle, thanks for joining us on this special edition of isPodcast.

Michelle Green:

You're very welcome and we will await the outcome of the election with interest.

Natalie Moutafis:

isPodcast is brought to you by Independent Schools Victoria. It's produced and recorded by Duncan McLean and presented by Michael Broadstock, Shane Green and me, Natalie Moutafis. Our podcast theme was composed and performed by Duncan McLean. You can find transcripts of our shows with links to what we've discussed at podcast.iseducation.com.au