Federalism and Australian Schooling

Federalism in Australian Schooling: Its impact upon quality and equity is an ARC supported project being undertaken by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, the Whitlam Institute, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Foundation for Young Australians.

This project seeks to investigate the impact of federalism on Australia's system of schooling and to investigate changes in the federal arrangements that would potentially increase the capacity of schooling to deliver better quality and more equitable outcomes.

The research being undertaken in this project addresses how federalism has influenced the structures and processes of school system governance in Australia.

The specific issues being investigated include:

How federal barriers and blockages impede sound education policy and reform strategies: e.g. whether there is wasteful overlap and duplication; overly complicated administrative arrangements; responsibility shifting; veto points.

What opportunities federalism provides for improved policy: e.g. flexibility and innovation; greater policy scope from multiple governments; access for stakeholders and disadvantaged groups.

How Commonwealth and state governments have operated - through coordinated, cooperative, competition strategies - and how successful these have been.

The project aims to use these findings to provide an in-depth analysis of the federalist structure and how it impacts on education policy.


Project Interviews

Over twenty five in-depth interviews will be conducted with significant education, policy and government figures, both current and past to draw on their extensive experience.


Seminar Series In developing the analysis, this project seeks to combine the research with a discursive process, a central part of which is an exciting seminar series. 


The project was launched at a very successful inaugural seminar at the Whitlam Institute in February 2010, with Mr John Dawkins, former Treasurer and Employment, Education and Training Minister. Information from the seminars is available via the seminar pages where you can listen to and watch some of the presentations.

Exploring the Federal Contours of Australian Schooling

The Australian Schools Commission and School Funding

Why is Education Reform So Hard?

Canada and Australia: Comparing the impact of federalism

Federalism in the real world: Implications for education

Federalism, Education and the Common Good



Project Papers and Articles


Education in the real world, September 2011
A background paper written by Professor Jack Keating, the Chief Investigator of the Federalism in Australian Schooling project, which examines the impacts of Australia's federalist system of government upon school education.


'Fiscal Federalism: then and now'
Professor Brian Galligan in: The Future of Australian Federalism: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives G. Appleby, N. Aroney and T. John (eds.) 2012


A new federalism in Australian education: a proposal for a National Reform Agenda
Professor Jack Keating writing for The Foundation for Young Australians, 2009


Resourcing schools in Australia.  A proposal for the restructure of public funding
Professor Jack Keating writing for The Foundation for Young Australians, 2010


For those who subscribe to the Professional Educator

Australian schooling and federalism: Time for a new settlement Professional Educator, Volume 8 Number 3, 2009

Professor Jack Keating highlights some of the structural weaknesses in Australia's education system and proposes a path towards a cooperative rather than competitive federalist approach to schooling.


The Schools Commission and school funding  Professional Educator, Volume 9 Number 4, 2010

Professor Jack Keating and Kira Clarke discuss the "sense of crisis within the government school sector, and memories of the long-term struggle to achieve public funding within the non-government sector, have ensured that the debate over school funding remains very much alive in Australia"

Foundation for Young Australians
Victoria Department of Education

Melbourne Gradaute School

Whitlam Institute

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