The Department of Education is committed to supporting a high performing education system, creating safe and inclusive workplaces and investing in communities for a stronger Queensland. This year, we delivered changes to our services that will shape the future of our diverse portfolio.
We are investing $1 billion over the next 5 years to provide free or cheaper kindergarten for 40,000 Queensland families, providing much needed cost-of-living relief and giving every child the opportunity to access high-quality early learning. Further reforms are also planned, with kindergarten to become free for all Queensland families from 2024, ensuring cost is no barrier for any child to start strong on their learning journey.
In February 2023, we released our new education strategy for state schools – Equity and Excellence: realising the potential of every student. We know every student comes to our schools with great potential and it is our job to set them on a path to lifelong success. Equity and Excellence is a reform strategy focused on lifting performance and improving outcomes through sustainable investment in evidence-based system initiatives.
Improving outcomes for Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students remains a key focus. Equity and Excellence sets the imperative for schools to ensure every Aboriginal student and Torres Strait Islander student is supported to realise their potential. Recognising and embedding the culture and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our teaching and learning is vital. This will create enriched and culturally supportive spaces that benefit all students and support our Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students to connect through their culture to learning.
In 2023, we began a 2-year transition to the new Students with Disability – Reasonable Adjustments Resourcing Model which will allocate resources for teacher and teacher aides to make reasonable adjustments for students with disability. This has been a big change for our schools and I thank them for their hard work and commitment to supporting students with disability to realise their potential.
Investment in educational leaders, teachers and teacher aides at critical stages through their career is an important enabler for success under Equity and Excellence. The new Education Futures Institute is providing teachers, teacher aides and educational leaders with professional development opportunities to build their confidence and capability in supporting our high-quality education system.
We recognise the importance of wellbeing and engagement for our staff. In 2022–23, we saw new programs to support aspiring teachers, continued our focus on staff wellbeing through the release of our Staff Mental Health Strategy and committed to building the cultural capability of our staff and leaders.
Our record investment in infrastructure continues to build new educational facilities to support children, students and young people. At the start of the 2023 school year, 4 new Queensland state schools opened, which represents a nearly $330 million investment.
The Office of Industrial Relations delivered important legislative reforms and reviews in 2022–23 to better support workers and keep Queensland workplaces safe. New Codes of Practice for preventing psychosocial hazards at work and managing silicosis were released to support workplaces to manage risks to employees. Both codes are the first of their kind in Australia to be legally enforceable.
In December 2022, a new funding model for Queensland’s racing industry came into effect, which provides streamlined revenue arrangements to better support racing clubs, infrastructure and animal welfare initiatives. The Office of Racing also worked closely with Racing Queensland to administer funding for the Racing Infrastructure Fund and country thoroughbred racing, acknowledging the significant contribution racing makes to regional and rural Queensland communities.
These fantastic achievements would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of staff across our state schools, regions and workplaces, and the support and engagement with our stakeholders and communities. I look forward to working together in the coming year to explore new opportunities and continue to drive improvements to make meaningful and lasting impacts for all Queenslanders.