Private Schools Should Pay Back Extra Jobkeeper Money

Private Schools Should Pay Back Extra Jobkeeper Money

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Sophie Q started this petition

Independent and Catholic schools have received hundreds of millions in Jobkeeper funds. Some schools have increased their incomes while receiving this money. They should pay back extra money that didn't go directly to covering the wages of staff during the pandemic.

Last week, the ABC published a story about independent schools who have received Jobkeeper money during the pandemic.

Some schools increased their income. Some schools were in states that experienced minimal disruption to regular schooling. One school in Melbourne claimed $17 million and upgraded their rowing facilities.

In 2021, a group of businesses voluntarily chose to return some Jobkeeper money following public pressure. 

Perhaps some private schools might choose to do the same.

The pandemic has been extremely tough on kids with pre-existing disadvantages, especially in places where there have been long lockdowns. It's been hard on kids whose parents do not speak English at home, kids who have struggled with unreliable internet connections and kids whose parents couldn't facilitate home-learning for many reasons, including work or illness. 

It doesn't seem right for independent schools (whose students may already enjoy many advantages) to avail themselves of extra money right now. 

It'd be great to see any Jobkeeper money that wasn't spent on staff wages re-directed to helping kids in state schools catch up. Or just returned to the ATO. 

There were shortcomings in the design of Jobkeeper (ie no mandatory payback mechanism) and these shortcomings are not the fault of schools who applied for this funding. Their applications were based on estimates of revenue downturns. 

But, in the end, most schools who received Jobkeeper money had no financial downturns and many actually increased their income. They shouldn't keep all the money.

Many independent and Catholic schools speak of moral courage and integrity in their school values. Here's an opportunity to show what those values mean in practice. 

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