Some health-based analysis of the Gonski review of schools funding
(Extra comments have been added to the bottom of the post, Feb 22)
For those with a concern for the community’s health, the Gonski review of schools funding is important reading, not least because of its strong focus on equity.
The report recommends that federal, state and territory governments, in consultation with the non-government school sector, should make reducing educational disadvantage a high priority in a new funding model, with resourcing to be targeted towards the most disadvantaged students.
Gonski and co identify “five factors of disadvantage that have a significant impact on educational outcomes in Australia”. They say: “At the student level these factors are socioeconomic status, Indigeneity, English language proficiency, and disability. At the school level, remoteness is demonstrated to have an impact on student outcomes.”
The inequities that the report identifies in education are related in many ways to the inequities that occur in the distribution of health, as well as in access to healthcare.
Its recommendations aim to ensure that “differences in educational outcomes are not the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions” and that “all students have access to a high standard of education regardless of their background or circumstances.”
Imagine what might be different if Australians were committed to ensuring that “differences in health outcomes are not the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions” and that “all Australians have access to a healthy environment and a high standard of health care regardless of their background or circumstances.”
Clearly it is not only health policy that might take a different tack.
Similarly, the solutions to some of the inequities identified by Gonski don’t really lie within the realm of school funding mechanisms.
Addressing inequities, whether these are reflected in health and/or education outcomes, requires broader social and economic action, including community development.
More fundamentally, it requires an electorate who understands these things matter, for society as a whole, as well as for those who are not currently getting a fair deal.
Below are some Gonski-related comments from Croakey contributors and below that are some extracts from the report, and (if you’ve still got the eyepower) some links to further reading.
If only Gonski was driving health reform
Professor Stephen Leeder, Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney and Chair of the Western Sydney Local Health District:
The Gonski Report is a refreshing and excellent document that takes the matter of equity seriously in ways that in health care we seem to have forgotten.
The report recognises that disadvantage and marginalisation require the investment of more resources to achieve relatively equitable outcomes. Equity is not equal amounts of cake for everyone with an appetite, but measured amounts according to need.
It would be wonderful to hear discussions such as the Gonski Report contains informing our deliberations about efficient pricing in the context of Activity Based Funding where an assumption appears to be that one national efficient price can be set for a clinical service irrespective of the socioeconomic or other marker of disadvantage of the patient.
And then Gonski also speaks about outcomes!! Wow! Not just activity! Bring him on!
Gonski a boost for public health
Professor Helen Keleher, president of the Public Health Association of Australia:
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