School Funding Facts

Catholic schools in Australia and how they are funded

Key Catholic education messages

The following information outlines some of the key facts about Catholic schools in Australia and the key issues facing Catholic education today and in the coming years. This information should be read in conjunction with the Funding Principles for Catholic Schools and Catholic Schools in Australia 2016.


Key facts about Catholic schools


  • More than 765,000 students attend 1,731 Catholic schools across Australia.
  • With 91,000 staff in those schools, Catholic education is a significant Australian employer.
  • Catholic schools receive significant government funding, which covers 71 per cent of the cost of schooling, on average. Fees and private income cover the rest.
  • Government funding for Catholic school students is 17 per cent lower than funding for government school students, on average.
  • Catholic schools are welcoming and inclusive communities, with the number of students with disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students doubling over the past decade.
  • Almost one-third of students in Catholic schools are non-Catholic.


Key issues for Catholic schools


  1. Respect for religious freedom in Catholic schools.
    Catholic schools, respecting the rights and freedoms of parents and carers to choose schooling for their children in the Catholic tradition, should continue to be free to form and instruct students in the Catholic faith and celebrate the faith as an integral and inseparable activity of the Catholic school.

  2. Government funding that keeps pace with school costs.
    If government funding for Catholic schools fails to keep pace with school costs, that could lead to even larger fee increases, affect school quality or lead to school closures.

  3. Government funding that is needs-based.
    School funding should reflect students’ learning needs, with greater educational need attracting additional funding. Catholic schools’ commitment to meeting the learning needs of all students requires appropriate government funding.

  4. Government funding to support the construction of new Catholic schools.
    More than 70 new Catholic schools are planned in the next five years to meet growing demand for school places. Without additional capital funding, these schools may not be built. Government funding is also needed to maintain and upgrade existing Catholic schools.

  5. Respect for the autonomy of Catholic schools.
    The ability of Catholic schools and systems to meet the local needs of a school community is one of their strengths. Government funding arrangements should respect the identity, integrity and autonomy of Catholic school and education systems.