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Education Minister Responds To School Program Funding Cut Claims

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Education Minister Grace Grace checking out the site of the new Baringa State High School with students from the neighbouring Primary School on Tuesday.  Image Credit: Michelle Price

Education Minister Grace Grace has confirmed there will be no change to funding for the Sunshine Coast Individualised Learning and Support (SCILS) program, during a visit to the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday.

She was responding to claims by Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson that the State Government had decided to cut funding for the program by 50 per-cent.  

Ms Simpson said more funding is needed to tackle “at risk” school kids on the Sunshine Coast but the Queensland Government has cut funding to a vital learning support program to help them stay in school.

She said SCILS operates in three local schools at a time when she has been calling for more funding for youth engagement strategies.

Ms Simpson said that last month the Government announced more funding for community youth responses in Brisbane, Ipswich, Cairns and Townsville, but nothing for the Sunshine Coast and now she has learnt that the Youth Pathways funding currently allocated to a student engagement program helping vulnerable kids in local schools is at risk of being scrapped.

“I am hearing reports that we have many children locally who need extra support to be able to stay in school and stay on-track,” Ms Simpson said.

“The SCILS program, coordinated by the Salvation Army, has been effectively supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable children in three local schools for several years and this year the funding was cut by 50%.

“The Salvos do an amazing work to support people in need in our community and I want to ensure this program continues, rather than being axed by this State Labor Government.

“Locally we are seeing a cohort of young people, many impacted by mental health and welfare issues, who need the right support to stay engaged in education and training rather than falling through the cracks and getting into trouble.

“I am working together with local agencies in my electorate and I want to see more funding for effective programs like this, not less" Ms Simpson added.  

During a visit to the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday, Minister Grace said "what we are looking at, there are various demands in the area, to also obtain some of those services".

"So the schools make a decision about what kind of services they want to buy in and then how we can support other schools that have those needs as well.

She confirmed "we are working with those schools" who take advantage of the SCILS program, adding the Government will work through any issues. 

Minister Grace said "these programs will continue and there has been no cut to funding".  

By Michelle Price 

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