Discussion Paper 3 – Governing Councils

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The legislation reform that never happened….

In 2006 the State Labor Government began re-writing the education and childcare laws. After changing the school leaving age and creating the SACE Board, their attention turned to Governing Councils.

In late 2008, after several delays, Ministers Jay Weatherill and Jane Lomax-Smith released the benignly titled, “Discussion Paper 3 – General Provisions for Education and Early Development”.

Unlike previous, Discussion Papers, this one did not have a single focus, instead covering a variety of topics – including religious education, curriculum, Materials & Services Charges and the role of Governing Councils.

SAASSO objected to several aspects of Discussion Paper 3:

  • What it included
  • What it ignored
  • How consultation was conducted
  • When consultation was conducted

SAASSO feared that couched in the paper were changes that could strip parents and Governing Councils of any remaining influence over their children’s schools.

In December 2008, SAASSO sent a submission to Minister Lomax-Smith, pleading with her to suspend the process to re-write the Education Act and instead work with SAASSO to first truly implement local governance in our public schools.

We were advised through channels, that with consultation finished, the re-write process would continue and we could expect new draft legislation as early as January 2009 – despite our submission.

Having not heard from the Ministers, on March 11, 2009, SAASSO wrote to each member of South Australia’s Parliament (upper and lower house) and each South Australian member of Federal Parliament (house of representatives and senate) with a copy of our Ministerial Submission.

Shortly after, SAASSO began hearing from Governing Council chairpersons, who had been called by legislation reform team, carrying out ‘additional’ consultation. Word from the department was that it was now acknowledged that the initial consultation had not been sufficient.

The expected new legislation did not arrive in early 2009.

In July, 2009, SAASSO finally received a response from Jane Lomax-Smith, telling us about the extended consultation carried out months earlier.

However, new legislation from Discussion Paper 3 never happened….