The Melbourne Declaration

– is change coming?

The Melbourne Declaration (The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians) is 10 years old, and the Education Council is hosting a review to determine if and how it might need to change.

While the document is a broad policy, it is important to recognise that it has led to the development of the Australian Curriculum, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the National Assessment Program.

Therefore, any changes are likely to have significant effects upon teachers and support staff.

Consultation with key stakeholders is now taking place. IEU Organiser Keith Heggart attended a consultation session in July at Cabramatta High School.

Issues raised included technology, inequality, climate change, globalisation and social instability. There was also concern about the increasing privatisation of educational services and assessment, and the effect of increasing casualisation and precarious work, and decreasing professional autonomy.

The Melbourne Declaration has two goals – one about equity and excellence and another about developing appropriate attributes young people.

These were broadly supported, although there was some discussion about including more reference to inclusive education and student wellbeing. In addition, some representatives wanted particular groups to be represented, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrants and refugees, students from educational disadvantaged backgrounds, people living in regional, rural and remote locations, student with disabilities and gifted students.

There were also a number of areas for action in the Melbourne Declaration. Of particular interest to the IEU was ‘supporting teaching and school leadership’ and ‘strengthening early childhood education’. For both of these, the IEU spoke about the need to recognise the workload of teachers and to take proactive steps to address this, in order to promote excellence in teaching. For early childhood teachers, the IEU emphasised the need for them to be recognised as fellow professionals – and paid accordingly. The IEU also raised concerns about the overwhelming amount of data that teachers are required to collect, and suggested that, in this case, less may sometimes be more.

Keith Heggart
IEU Organiser