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On March 3, 2004,p. 14,   the Sydney Morning Herald published an article entitled: "Insight: So that's how Catholics do it" by Kelly Burke and Gerard Noonan. DOGS have yet to see an article with equivalent content and analysis in The Age. (Melbourne)

The article brings together recent research into the public funding and student profiles of the Roman Catholic system in Australia. The article was a response to the recent secret deal between the Federal Liberal Government and the National Catholic Education Commission. This deal has yielded at least 12.6 billion dollars in the 2005-2008 quadrennium for the Roman Catholic private sector.

We quote from this article:

" The way the NCEC arrived at the present deal with Canberra is a replica of its successful efforts four years ago to get a special deal for the giant Catholic schooling system. No public summits, no fuss, and especially no scrutiny"*

The deal was also reported in The Catholic Weekly of 7 March 2004, that under the New Agreement concluded with the Commission a 37% increase of 3 billion dollars over the current quadrennium.

Of particular interest was the discussion in the Sydney Morning Herald article of an additional 362 million dollar "sweetener" which led the Roman Catholic schools to conclude negotiations. Once this was revealed, other very interesting points were raised.

What the churchmen knew while taxpayers did not was that 60% of Roman Catholic schools, if this deal was not struck, would have effectively taken a cut under the SES system. This was because they were not "needy" under the SES system as outsiders assumed.

In actual fact, while 60% of Roman Catholic schools will be "funding maintained" only one third of the 980 other private church schools enjoy the comfort of the" funding maintained" safety net.

However, taxpayers are led to believe that the 362 million dollar "sweetener" is to go to the "poorer" schools.

Think again. Ever since the Whitlam Government's 1973 Karmel Committee Report, and the celebrated"Needs" policy administered from Canberra, we have been asked to weep for poor Roman Catholic parish schools. The assumption has always been that "poor parish schools" would be favoured because they were for "poor Roman Catholic students" in "poor suburbs."

How come there are still "poor Roman Catholic Parish schools"?

This indicates what the DOGS have constantly declared since the 1970s: The Needs system has been and still is a farce!"

For example, in the early 1980s we declared that the Federal Needs policy was a sham. This is illustrated by the fact that the schools in better suburbs like  Ivanhoe, Beaumaris - Brighton- Black Rock on the average in 1979 received in excess of $110 more per pupil than "poorer off" areas such as Brunswick, Flemington-Kensington, Footscray and Fitzroy. We declared then that the major beneficiary of the current "needs" policy was not the inner suburban "poor parish primary schools" but the more uneconomic country and recently developed outer suburban schools.

This fact has been hidden from the taxpayers by the Press, Politicians, Professors and the Priests since the very beginning.

But where are the poor Roman Catholic children? They are not as well represented in current Roman Catholic schools. They have gone and are going to "poor State schools".

The Sydney Morning Herald articles quotes independent researcher, Barbara Preston who analysed the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 census data after being commissioned by the Australian Education Union, as follows:

" The myth of a Catholic school-educated working class goes right back to where Catholics were the low-income earners in the Australian community, which certainly ceased to be the case in the 1960s...But there remains strong vested interests for the continuation of the myth to be promoted, and it's extremely difficult for anyone to counter it."

Preston further says that the census figures show it is naive of any government to believe that, by increasing funding to Catholic schools, an improvement in the education of low-income students would logically follow, least of all to low income Catholic students, many of whom attend government schools.

With almost three-quarters of students in Catholic schools coming from medium-to-high income families if it was not for a secret deal with the government 60% of the Catholic systemic schools would suffer a cut in funding.

DOGS suggest, church schools should not only receive a cut in public funding. What they do with their private wealth and fees is their own business. All public funding to church schools should cease.

Public schools which are open to all children, - including the poor or needy  members of the Roman Catholic church - should be the only recipients of taxpayers money.

The history of State Aid to Church Schools is a forty year history of demands, manipulation, cover up, and special deals for the most powerful lobby in the Australian political community.


* See DOGS previous Press Releases in which we note that the Church school interest has become a "State within a State" and " a cancer in the body politic."










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Last modified:Monday, 25 April 2005