The Berejiklian Government has reneged on a promise to provide extra funding to Catholic schools to support them taking more children of Iraqi and Syrian refugees. 

At a meeting of school principals in November 2016 the state government committed to make available $93 million in extra funding to help the children settle into schools.

Non-government schools were entitled to draw on the funds to help deal with the influx of young children to their schools.

But despite the clear undertaking given to the Catholic schools sector at the November 22 meeting of the Schools Principals Round Table – organised by the Department of Premier and Cabinet – the Liberal Government has taken the money off the table. A letter by Sydney Catholics Schools Executive Director Dan White confirms the Government’s U-turn and said “the government has failed to honour a clear promise with regard to funding” (see attached correspondence).

This is in spite of the fact that in this term NSW Catholic schools have taken in more than 200 children from Syrian and Iraqi refugee families.  In 2015 former Premier Mike Baird made a high-profile commitment to house more refugees in NSW, promising that he would use the state’s “economic strength” to help them settle.

It comes as the Premier failed to say if she backed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to the Catholic education sector. The cuts – to be confirmed in Tuesday’s Federal Budget – will see fees rise by more than $1,000 a year and children from Catholic families forced into the state’s already overcrowded public schools.

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

Ms Berejiklian’s government made a clear commitment to the Catholic schools sector – you will get financial assistance if you take in more children of refugees to this country. She has broken that promise.

“When it comes to education, this Government will always put political expediency before the education of our children. Ms Berejiklian’s ministers will always say whatever it takes to get them through a jam.

“Schools were led down the garden path with promises of financial assistance only to find the gate was firmly shut in their face. Now the education sector has found out that a promise by this government isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

“The most vulnerable children in our schools – children who have been through enough in life – won’t get the support that they need because of this Government’s duplicity.”