Education in the Federation spotlight
The fourth issues paper developed to inform the Commonwealth Government’s White Paper on the Reform of the Federation, Roles and Responsibilities in Education, was released in late December.
The Issues Paper is framed in two parts.
Part A discusses childcare and early childhood learning, and schools; and Part B discusses vocational education and training and higher education.
Both parts outline the evolution of Commonwealth and State and Territory involvement in education.
They also examine pressures on the current arrangements and pose questions for public comment and debate.
Part A recognises the role local government plays in the provision of children’s services, including childcare and early learning.
Also recognised is the role of councils in planning, managing, funding and delivering these services.
The limited role councils play in regulation, in terms of planning approvals for buildings for use by child care and early learning services is also noted.
One of the questions posed in the paper to promote public discussion is which level of government, if any, should be responsible for responding to market failure in the childcare and early learning sector.
This is a question that no doubt many local councils have grappled with when the need for services has been identified in the community and in making a decision to become involved, or remain involved in the provision of child care and early learning services.
The Issues Paper further asks how all levels of government can ensure expenditure on childcare and early learning is sustainable.
Again, this is something that I am sure councils involved in this area have asked themselves many times.
The Issues Papers provide councils with an opportunity to assess their own involvement in these issues, and to provide comment.
The final Issues Paper to be released as part of the Federation White Paper process is on Federal Financial Relations and it should be on the must-read list of all those in local government.
The Green Paper setting out options for reform is expected to be released in the second half of the year, ahead of the White Paper in early 2016.
The Issues Papers are available on the Reform of the Federation website www.federation.dpmc.gov.au.