1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Education and training


Under the Commonwealth Constitution, the state and territory governments are responsible for providing schooling to all school-age children. They have the major financial responsibility for government schools, contribute supplementary funds to non-government schools and regulate school policies and programs. They determine curricula, course accreditation, student assessment and awards for both government and non-government schools. State and territory governments are also responsible for the administration and major funding of vocational education and training (VET) and for legislation relating to the establishment and accreditation of higher education courses.

The Commonwealth government has special responsibilities in education and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrants, international partnerships in education, and providing financial assistance for students. It is principally responsible for funding non-government schools and higher education institutions, and provides supplementary funding for government schools and VET.


In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a comprehensive education reform agenda for Australia. The agenda has impacts on education and training policy at all levels as part of broader reforms under the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations.

Under the National Education Agreement, Australian governments have agreed to work together toward the objective that all Australian school students will acquire the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in society and employment in a globalised economy.

The five outcomes of the National Education Agreement are:

  • All children are engaged in and benefitting from school.
  • Young people are meeting basic literacy and numeracy standards, and overall levels of literacy and numeracy achievements are improving.
  • Australian students excel by international standards.
  • Young people make a successful transition from school to work and further study.
  • Schooling promotes social inclusion and reduces the educational disadvantage of children, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

There is a suite of national partnerships associated with the funding and implementation of specific programs under the National Education Agreement:
  • National Partnership on Improving Teacher Quality
  • National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy
  • National Partnership on Low Socio-Economic Status School Communities
  • National Partnership on Early Childhood Education
  • National Partnership on National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care
  • National Partnership on Indigenous Early Childhood Development and
  • National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions.

The National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development sets goals for developing the skills of the Australian people and ensuring that the present and future workforce needs of Australian employers are met.

The four outcomes associated with the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development are:
  • The working age population has gaps in foundation skills levels reduced to enable effective educational, labour market and social participation.
  • The working age population has the depth and breadth of skills and capabilities required for the 21st century labour market.
  • The supply of skills provided by the national training system responds to meet changing labour market demand.
  • Skills are used effectively to increase labour market efficiency, productivity and innovation, and to ensure increased utilisation of human capital.

There are two national partnerships associated with the National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development:

  • National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions
  • National Partnership on the Productivity Places Program.

These national partnerships and related reports can be found on the COAG Reform Council website.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.