by DANIELLE STEVENS
with SARAH HATTAM and ANTHEA FUDGE
Dear Prime Minister Morrison,
Enabling programs have experienced multiple threats to funding in the past (2017, 2018). In 2021, I am concerned again about whether Enabling education will survive, this time because of the reforms set out in the Commonwealth’s Job Ready Graduates Package.
I gained entry to my university degree via an Enabling pathway after leaving high school many years ago with a distinct lack of confidence in my capability to succeed in a tertiary education environment. I agree with research that shows how there are a myriad of ‘gatekeeping’ mechanisms implemented within secondary schools that limit aspirations and options for many young Australians. I understand now that I faced social, political and economic obstacles to my participation in higher education, illustrating the ways educational participation is complicated by class, socioeconomic status, and other inequalities.
Vital Commonwealth funding of Enabling education affords students – like myself who would otherwise be excluded from university – the opportunity to improve their life chances, satisfaction and employment options.
And the benefits of Enabling education extend beyond me and my life chances. The hidden benefits of Enabling education, that are not factored into decision-making framed within a four-year election cycle, are the future generational impact on a student’s family that completion of tertiary study bestows.
Enabling education provides the opportunity for a “second” chance at getting into university, and to have a “go.” A few years ago, you made a speech where you said ‘if you’re having a go, you’ll get a go’ (2019) with your government. Thousands of Australians will have their “go” taken away because of the changes to funding arrangements set out in the JRG package.
I urge you and your government to secure the funding for Enabling education so that Australians, like myself, can create a bright future both for themselves and generations to come.
Enabling Program Alumni
Dr Sarah Hattam, University of South Australia – Senior Lecturer at UniSA College in Critical Thinking and Sociology Sarah.Hattam@unisa.edu.au
Dr Anthea Fudge, University of South Australia – Lecturer at UniSA College in STEM and University Literacies