Australian Government, 2008‑09 Budget

Budget Highlights

Early childhood education

  • $533.5 million over five years for universal access to early childhood education. This will reduce the barriers to gaining access to quality learning programs for children before they start school, including Indigenous children living in remote areas. When fully implemented by 2013, this measure will ensure universal access to preschool for 15 hours per week, 40 weeks a year.
  • An additional $1.6 billion over four years to increase the frequency and rate of the Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR). From 1 July 2008 the CCTR rebate will be increased from 30 to 50 per cent and the cap will be raised from $4354 to $7500 (indexed). The CCTR will also be paid quarterly.
  • $126.6 million over four years to train and retain a high‑quality early education workforce. The package of initiatives will provide incentives to improve the qualifications of child care workers and support more early childhood teachers, particularly where they are needed most.
  • $114.5 million to establish the first 38 of 260 child care centres to be built across Australia.


  • $2.5 billion over the next 10 years for the Trades Training Centres in Schools program. This program commenced on 7 March 2008, and decisions on funding for the first $100 million will be announced in late June 2008. Second round applications for up to $300 million will close in October 2008.
  • More than $1 billion a year for a new Education Tax Refund to help families meet primary and secondary schooling costs. Eligible families will be able to claim a 50 per cent refund every year for key education expenses up to $750 for each child undertaking primary studies (maximum refund of $375 per child, per year), and $1500 for each child undertaking secondary studies (maximum refund of $750 per child, per year).
  • $1.2 billion over five years to roll out the Digital Education Revolution to ensure students are equipped for life and work in a digital world. This includes $32.6 million over two years to supply students and teachers with tools and resources to support online education, and an additional $200 million in 2011‑12 to support the National Secondary School Computer Fund beyond the initial four‑year funding period.
  • $457 million for school capital works. Over four years, a total of $1.7 billion will be allocated to maintenance and infrastructure in schools.
  • $577.4 million over four years to provide additional literacy and numeracy support to those schools and students who need it most.

Skills development and training

  • The $1.9 billion Skilling Australia for the Future package over five years will deliver a future training system that is responsive to the needs of Australian industry and the economy and will provide graduates with relevant qualifications and a better chance of securing a job. It includes an investment of around $33.3 million in the current financial year, which has already made 20 000 new training places available to job seekers during 2007‑08. The 2008‑09 Budget extends this commitment to provide 630 000 new training places over five years (including 85 000 apprenticeship places).

Higher education

  • $500 million in 2007‑08 for higher education institutions to undertake capital projects to support improved teaching and learning, research and students' overall higher education experience. Priority areas will be information and communications technology, laboratories, libraries and student study spaces, teaching spaces and student amenities.
  • $238.6 million over four years for 29 000 new National Priority Scholarships and 15 000 new National Accommodation Scholarships. This will improve access to higher education places, including for students from Indigenous communities and regional and remote areas.
  • $249 million for up to 11 000 new Commonwealth supported places to replace full‑fee paying places for undergraduate students. This will ensure students gain access to higher education on merit and not on their ability to pay.
  • $562.2 million over four years to encourage students to study maths and science and compensate universities. From 1 January 2009, the maximum annual student contribution amount for maths and science will be reduced to the lowest 'national priority' rate for new students.
  • $63.6 million to reduce compulsory Higher Education Loan program (HELP) repayments for maths and science graduates who take up related occupations such as teaching.
  • As part of its plan to provide 9250 extra nurses in the workforce, the Government will also provide $99.5 million to fund new Commonwealth supported higher education nursing places. Funding will initially be provided for 90 places in the second semester of 2008 and a further 1170 places in 2009.

Education Investment Fund

  • New $11 billion Education Investment Fund (EIF), which will include $5 billion from the 2007‑08 and 2008‑09 Budgets and $6 billion from the Higher Education Endowment Fund (HEEF).

The key priorities of the EIF will be capital expenditure and renewal and refurbishment in universities and vocational institutions as well as in research facilities and major research institutions.

Unlike HEEF, which allowed only for the interest earned to be spent, there will be no cap on yearly allocations from the EIF. This means that substantial investment can be made in our educational institutions in the coming years, transforming the capacity of these sectors to educate and train Australians.

There will be no disbursements from the EIF in the 2008‑09 financial year to ensure allocations align with the recommendations of the Higher Education Review and priorities of universities and vocational education and training sectors.

Indigenous education

  • $56.4 million over four years for the expansion of Intensive Literacy and Numeracy Programs for Underachieving Indigenous Students, and support for Individual Learning Plans.
  • $28.9 million over four years for three new boarding facilities in the Northern Territory for Indigenous students.
  • $2.3 million in 2008‑09 in operational funding for 10 new crèches in the Northern Territory.
  • $19.1 million in 2008‑09 to continue accelerated literacy provision, quality teaching, and professional development of the Indigenous teaching workforce and to build six new classrooms in the Northern Territory.
  • $7.4 million in 2008‑09 to continue the provision of a breakfast and lunch program for school‑age children under the School Nutrition program in the Northern Territory.

These Budget measures for Indigenous education build on the $98.8 million investment over five years to provide 200 additional teachers in the Northern Territory over the 2007‑08 to 2011‑12 period announced earlier this year.

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