‘Money Made Us’: A Short History of Government Funds for Australian Schools

Part of the Policy Implications of Research in Education book series (PIRE, volume 3)


The recent Australian Federal Government Gonski review of school funding raises the question of how governments have financed schools in Australia. Drawing on various sources of revenue, the early colonial governors funded various schools. By the beginning of colonial self government in the mid-nineteenth century the funding of the schools of the major Church denominations had become regarded as a form of entitlement. The latter emergence of government funded and government provided schools led to the secular Acts of the late nineteenth century removing government funds from Church schools. By the twentieth century the provision of schools was a prime function of State Governments. But the Second World War emphasised the ‘fiscal imbalance’ in the Constitution with the Commonwealth now claiming primacy in the collection of income tax which had become the prime source of revenue for all government activity. Over the past half a century the idea of entitlement in the provision of government funds for non-government schools has re-emerged in various forms such as ‘state aid’ and ‘school choice’. The Gonski review is the latest development of this process which now involves both the Commonwealth and the States as well as between those who seek preferment in the allocation of funds and wider national concerns about educational disadvantage and school performance.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Social WorkUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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