The Australian Government established the Choice and Affordability Fund (the CAF) to assist the non-government school sector to support schools to deliver choice and affordability and achieve government priorities.
The CAF began in 2020 with an estimated $1.2 billion to be provided to the non-government sector to 2029, with an estimated $735 million allocated to Catholic sector from 2020 to 2029, including independent Catholic schools which nominate to be represented by their Catholic non-government representative body (NGRB), and $460.6 million for Independent schools over the same period.
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How does the Fund work?
The CAF is administered by independent and Catholic NGRBs in each state and territory, on the basis that those most directly connected to schools are best placed to determine the relative need within school sectors.
Funding for the CAF is provided under the Australian Education Act 2013 (the Act), and in accordance with the Australian Education Regulations 2023 (the Regulations). The Act and Regulations also impose accountability and reporting requirements to ensure funding is used in accordance with Government objectives for the CAF.
The Regulations require that funding received from the CAF must be used by NGRBs for the purpose of supporting school education, and in accordance with the CAF Guidelines.
All NGRBs must also have an agreement with the department which sets out their intended use for the CAF, which are available on the CAF Agreements page.
These agreements were developed in consultation with the non-government sector.
What is the Fund to be used for?
The CAF must be used by NGRBs to achieve five Government priorities set out in the CAF Guidelines. NGRBs can use the CAF flexibly over the 10 years to maximise their impact on these priorities. All funding must be spent, or committed to be spent, by 31 December 2029.
The CAF must be used to assist non-government schools during transition to the Government’s recurrent funding arrangements, and an agreed minimum percentage of funding is quarantined to directly assist regional schools to transition.
The CAF must also be used to assist schools affected by unexpected special circumstances such as COVID-19, drought, bushfires and other natural disasters, particularly where this creates short-term financial difficulty for the school.
The other CAF priorities are:
- providing choice to parents of an affordable school that will best suit their child,
- lifting outcomes, particularly for educationally disadvantaged students and schools, and
- enhancing student wellbeing and support through safe, supportive and respectful learning environments.
The subset of priorities that each NGRB will address are detailed in the each NGRB’s CAF Agreement.
Reporting and transparency
As a condition of ongoing funding, NGRBs must report annually by 30 June on their progress in achieving the priority objectives and intended outcomes identified in their agreements for the previous year.
The department also publishes consolidated annual report, which is available on the CAF Annual Reports page
How can schools access assistance from the Fund?
Schools wishing to gain support under the Fund should contact their NGRB.