“I’m always astounded that the university sector does not get the attention that we see given to the mining sector, or we have seen given to the tourism sector around Virgin if you like,” Mr Scott said. “This is a vital industry important all across the country, important to the future of the nation and it really is facing very significant threat now and attention must be paid.”
Universities are treated like businesses, not other registered charities, under the $130 billion JobKeeper program, and must include all federal government funding in determining whether it has lost enough revenue to qualify.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth faced a barrage from Whittlesea Secondary College principal Lian Davies and NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos over what they argued were inconsistencies in medical advice concerning schools.
“We’ve been told that kids, for example, are not allowed to play in a public playground, yet when it comes to a school playground divided by a fence, somehow it’s OK,” Mr Gavrielatos said. “We’re told children should not be looked after by their grandparents but we’re told it’s OK to be taught by someone else’s grandparents”.
Dr Coatsworth said private school playgrounds were not an infection risk like public parks, and that the medical advice was for at-risk teachers to be shifted into jobs not requiring contact with students.
Ms Davies said more confidence in the medical advice was needed before teachers happily returned to schools full-time.
“In order for teachers to feel confident coming into school, they need to know their health and welfare is being thought of as well,” the Victorian school principal said.
“We are all there for the students and we are absolutely delighted that this does not seem to impact students in the way it’s impacting adults. But we do have to take into consideration the school’s function because of those adults, and some of them are very vulnerable.”