Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Extra money for home educators?

'There is no such thing as a free lunch'. When we begin to think in terms of entitlements and rights we sometimes forget that what we are really talking about it is responsibility and commitment. What will it cost us to receive these entitlements, benefits or rights?

I am careful and cautious about which benefits (financial or otherwise) I receive, especially from government agencies, in exactly the same way I am cautious about 'special offers' and 'sales' and 'give aways'. I read the fine print because I want to know what responsibilities and commitments I am agreeing to in doing so. Not everyone is aware of the need to weigh up the perceived benefits with the possible disadvantages.

A home educator in Western Australia has started a petition calling for the government to increase the Education Tax Refund to home educators: http://www.change.org/petitions/australian-government-increase-the-education-tax-refund-for-homeschooling-families. HEN Vic is calling for caution as generally additional benefits come with increased regulation. 

The educational tax rebate is already available to registered home educating families that want to claim it. The only issue I have with it at present is that home educators are unable to access rebate for educational expenses for resources for children between 5 and 6 years of age because the home education regulatory bodies refuse to register or exempt from attending school children who have not yet reached compulsory school age. That's not really a problem with the tax department - if we want to register or exempt our children when they are old enough to be enrolled and accepted in primary school then we should be able to do so.

Eventually home education will be officially and universally recognised as an alternative option in education and the anomalies will start to disappear between state/territory/federal government departments. I dream of a time when the left hand will know what the right hand is doing, but I'm not truly convinced it is going to happen!

I personally don't want my autonomy restricted or removed or lessened in any way. As a home educating family we opted for living simply and frugally. Sure there were things we went without - particularly some excursions with pricey entrance tickets. Life was full and busy and wonderfully education nonetheless. There were many years we didn't earn enough to even pay tax let alone think about tax rebates! It wasn't always easy living like this but one thing I did learn - you don't need money to educate children. I'm not saying this is the path everyone should take: I like money and I like spending money and if I won the lotto my kids would get cross at the educational clutter I'd fill their houses with! But I'd rather the money come from the lotto than the government.

Beverley Paine
Homeschool Australia
Unschool Australia
Homeschool~Unschool~Australia! quarterly journal