Federal court ruling saves beleaguered school

Federal court ruling saves beleaguered school

A Federal Court judge has ordered the Federal Government to release funding for Australia’s largest Islamic school, citing “considerable urgency”.

The court said Malek Fahd Islamic School – which had its funding delayed in April but lodged a last-ditch appeal on June 29 – would close without the money and ordered the Federal Government to release $6.5m in withheld funds.

Federal Court Judge John Griffiths said the month-by-month funding will be restored and back-paid to April, acknowledging the school's “troubled history” in recent years.

“Closure of the school, which is imminent if funding is not restored, is bound to have significant effect on the students as well as their parents and guardians and the teaching and other staff at the school who will have to search elsewhere for employment,” Justice Griffiths said.

The school is 80% taxpayer funded, with Federal funding making up the majority of the overall amount. If the school were to close, 2,400 students and 200 staff would have been left in limbo.

The Federal Government’s decision to freeze funding had been taken after concerns about the school’s financial management and governance.

Malek Fahd Islamic School’s board chairman John Bennett, told AAP that the Federal court’s decision was “a great relief” after a difficult time for the community.

“It's been very anxious, very stressful for parents, for students and staff,” he said, pointing out that many of the problems related to a previous board which was replaced in March last year.

Since then, it has been adjusting its governance and financial operations. AFIC no longer has representation on the board.