This position paper is one of four produced by Jesuit Social Services as part of our 2014 Victorian State Government Election Platform.

In it, we call for action to tackle educational disadvantage. The people we work with who are experiencing educational disadvantage have hopes and aspirations to participate productively in our society. Their hopes can be realised, but this will require a renewed commitment from the Victorian Government to education and lifelong learning.

A starting point must be to maximise learning opportunities for all Victorians through:

  • investment in the earliest years in life to ensure that no children start schools ‘behind the eight ball’
  • support for the poorest families to meet the costs of schooling through the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance
  • a high quality mainstream schooling system with the leadership, culture, curriculum, and resources required for every child to succeed, and
  • funding our TAFE system to meet its community service obligations.

In addition to this, renewed efforts are required across all of parts of Victoria’s education system to ensure that the most vulnerable and high needs learners also have opportunities to participate and succeed. We’ve identified five key initiatives that will realise this aim:

  1. Improve learning outcomes for vulnerable children through a system-wide strategy and additional resources for partnerships.
  2. Keep vulnerable children and young people engaged in learning by funding area-based workers to follow up with those who disengage and match them to learning opportunities.
  3. Provide additional resources so that alternative learning environments can support vulnerable young people on pathways back into mainstream learning and work.
  4. Develop flexible learning packages for engaging high needs learners, building their foundational skills, and supporting them on pathways to participation.
  5. Pilot new industry led pathways through learning and into work for people with high needs.

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Action to tackle educational disadvantage - Election Platform October 2014