National Report on Schooling in Australia 2009

Part 1

National policy context


Within Australia's federal system, responsibility for school education rests predominantly with the Australian States and Territories. The six State and two Territory governments and the Australian Government have cooperated to develop and work towards agreed goals for improving the educational outcomes for all young Australians.
In Australia, joint decisions on shared priorities and agreed national initiatives are made through intergovernmental policy councils. For education, these councils are the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA), the Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment (MCTEE) and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).


The Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) was established in July 2009 following a realignment of the roles and responsibilities of two previously existing councils – the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) and the Ministerial Council for Vocational and Technical Education (MCVTE).
Membership of the Council comprises State, Territory, Australian Government and New Zealand Ministers with responsibility for the portfolios of school education, early childhood development and youth affairs.
The areas of responsibility covered by MCEECDYA are:
  • primary and secondary education

  • youth affairs and youth policy relating to schooling

  • cross-sectoral matters including transitions and careers

  • early childhood development including early childhood education and care

  • international education (school education).

MCEECDYA is responsible for overseeing progress towards the Educational Goals for Young Australians announced by Ministers in the Melbourne Declaration of December 2008. The Melbourne Declaration supersedes the National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century (the Adelaide Declaration, agreed in 1999), which itself superseded the original National Goals for Schooling in Australia (Hobart Declaration, agreed in 1989).


The Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment (MCTEE) is responsible for higher education, vocational education and training, international education (non-school), adult and community education, employment and youth policy relating to participation in tertiary education, work and workforce productivity.


The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia. The Council comprises the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
COAG’s assent in 2008 to the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations and the National Education Agreement has resulted in a common framework for reform in education across Australia.
This framework includes a set of nationally agreed objectives, outcomes, targets and performance indicators to guide education reform across the country.