Leading youth organisations urge COAG leaders to move on Gonski reforms

Australia’s youth affairs peak bodies sent letters today to all State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers, urging them to support the Gonski education reforms at Friday’s COAG meeting. Together, these peak bodies represent organisations across Australia that have contact with over 2.7 million young Australians (aged 12 – 25).

Andrew Cummings, Executive Director of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) – the national youth peak – said Australia’s prosperity depends on the success of young Australians, and investing in their education was critical to success.

“Every Australian needs to consider how we best support young people to provide for Australia’s future. In 1950 there were 7.5 working age Australians to fund every retiree. By 2050 there will be 2.7 working age Australians to fund every retiree.”

“Our future prosperity, as individuals, as communities, as a nation, hangs on the success of this generation of young Australians.”

“If we are not investing in our young Australians now, if they do not succeed as a generation – like no generation before them – the cost will be crippling. It will break us,” he said.

Fairness in education is a major problem in Australia. For example far fewer students from disadvantaged backgrounds complete Year 12 than students from high socio economic backgrounds.

“Too many young Australians are falling through the cracks. Not only should we do right by these young Australians, we simply can’t afford for them to be left behind. It’s time we gave all young people the support they need to thrive,” said Mr Cummings.

Unlike many of the organisations campaigning in favour of the Gonski reforms, the youth affairs peak bodies have no vested interest in the reforms as they do not represent teachers, private schools or public schools. They are simply a voice for young Australians.

Mr Cummings said it was in the best interests of young Australians for the Premiers and Chief Ministers to come to an agreement with the Prime Minister.

“If they walk into negotiations today looking to save face, score points, or ‘win’ something, Australia loses,” he said. The letters urged state and territory leaders to put aside partisan interests and commit to their share of the Gonski education reforms so a new model can be in place by next year.

Heads of the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, Youth Affairs Network Queensland, Youth Action (NSW), the Youth Affairs Council of South Australia, the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia, Northern Territory Council of Social Service, the Youth Coalition of the ACT and the Youth Network of Tasmania wrote to their state Premier or their territory Chief Minister. All letters were co-signed by the national peak body for young Australians, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition.

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