Research, innovation opportunities lost while education fund remains frozen

The aged care industry is missing out on research, innovation and training opportunities because the Education Investment Fund remains frozen, CQ University Vice-Chancellor Scott Bowman says.

More than $3.7 billion is tied up in the Education Investment Fund, which the Turnbull Government had planned to used towards the NDIS before discovering that a simple transfer would not be possible.

Last month the Department of Finance made it clear legislation “would need to be amended for the government to remove the uncommitted balance of EIF and transfer this money to a different purpose”.

This would require Senate approval, which is unlikely given it rejected a bid to move the EIF money to the Asset Recycling Fund late last year.

Meanwhile, universities are unable to move ahead with planned ‘game changing’ facility developments, such as health clinics that focus on aged care.

“The Education Investment Fund was not just about new buildings for the university, it was about providing cutting-edge facilities for the community,” Mr Bowman said.

“Before we had the clinic it was hard to retain local health workers and there was a waiting list of at least three years for some treatments.”

“Now there’s no waiting list and the people we’ve trained are able to stay here in Rockhampton, improving health care in the region.”

He said new state-of-the-art vocational training facilities and proposed developments to the health clinic to incorporate aged care and other health disciplines are in jeopardy without the Education Investment Fund.

“This multi-million project would enable partnerships with Q Health and aged care industry stakeholders, to provide opportunities for our students and underpinning expansion of aged care services in the community.”

“As new kinds of skills are needed, the facilities we have now may not be the ones we need in the future to train regional Australia,” he said.

The Government is now seeking to fund the NDIS gap through cuts to welfare though Nick Xenophon has said he will block the omnibus bill, leaving the Government with little option but to revisit the Education Investment Fund option.

A review into the financial viability and longer term projections of the NDIS by the Productivity Commission is underway, but its findings are not due until mid September.


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