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In this edition:

  • A new President, a new PM, a new Minister 
  • Meet the new Federal Education Minister, Senator Simon Birmingham
  • Snapshot from our national conference
  • Reminder - Anti-Poverty Week 2015 this October
  • Postcard from... South Africa

Please enjoy our September e-news.


Read our new President's message

What always wins through in any change process is the strength of the community, the expectation from parents to create the very best opportunities for their children, and a sense of looking out for each other.


President's message

The warmer weather is heralding the onset of spring and with it brings my election as the new President of ACSSO. With a new Prime Minister and the Hon. Simon Birmingham’s elevation to Minister of Education and Training, we have a busy time ahead in what is looking to be a fascinating and challenging year to come.

I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Margaret Leary, our past President; her boundless commitment to public education, and her contagious enthusiasm led ACSSO through a restructure process that is a vital part of our future. Margaret has taken up a new role as Training and Development Officer with P&Cs QLD – a role in which I know she will flourish.

Then there is Di Giblin AM to consider. As our CEO Di is totally committed to creating the very best outcomes for both students and parents in public education. Her dedication is absolute and her depth of knowledge and experience is extraordinary. We all owe her an enormous debt of gratitude and I’m very much looking forward to working with Di and the new ACSSO Board.

My involvement in parent bodies began with my children’s primary school. In my case it was Moriarty, a small school in rural Tasmania. Like all school communities it faced its own unique challenges; challenges that resulted in some hard choices having to be made in the best interests of the students of the school. What always wins through in any change process is the strength of the community, the expectation from parents to create the very best opportunities for their children, and a sense of looking out for each other. 

I’d like to think that in the coming year we can focus on amplifying the inherent strengths in Australia’s diverse range of parent bodies and applying them to the ever changing issues at the heart of our education system. 

We need to ensure genuine community engagement - particularly in the form of authentic parent engagement and equity of opportunity - with resources that support this; traits that have been widely recognised as an essential part of improving educational attainment and outcomes for all students.

ACSSO plays a crucial role in this space as the national peak body representing the interests of Australia’s government schools’ parents, families and communities. I hope that you enjoy reading our newsletter and I look forward to fully embracing my new role and the opportunities for positive change in public education.

Phillip Spratt

Read the ACSSO President's media release


Pictured: Minister Birmingham with his wife Courtney Morcombe and daughters Amelia and Matilda, at the new Cabinet's swearing-in ceremony.

Meet Minister Birmingham

On 20 September the new federal Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, was announced as a member of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's first Cabinet.  

 A significant change in the portfolio was the return of the early childhood sector to education, back from the Social Services portfolio where it had been placed during Minister Scott Morrison's tenure.  The change has been warmly welcomed by educators working in the early childhood and outside school hours care sector across Australia.

Below is an extract from Minister Birmingham's first media release in his new role. ACSSO welcomes his intention to 'work collaboratively with education stakeholders to develop policy and build broad support...'.

Australia enjoys one of the best education and training systems in the world and it is an enormous privilege to continue the government's work to make our great system even better.

Since December last year I have greatly enjoyed serving as the Minister responsible for vocational education and training, pursuing reforms focussed on lifting the quality of training, it's relevance to modern jobs and the status of VET.

Ensuring Australians have the right skills for the jobs of today, and the jobs of tomorrow, is essential if we are to deliver on the Prime Minister's vision for our nation to take maximum advantage of the opportunities created by economic and technological change and global innovation.

I am committed to ensuring that from early learning through schools to universities and vocational education and training, our education system equips all Australians with the opportunity to be their best, do their best and make our country its best.

I look forward to building on Christopher Pyne's unstinting efforts to ensure Australia has the highest standards of education at all levels, and to working collaboratively with education stakeholders to develop policy and to build broad support for any future reforms we need to undertake.

As a South Australian I also note the increase in our state's representation in both the Cabinet and the full ministry, which I am sure will be welcomed by many South Australians given the high unemployment and particular economic challenges our state faces.

You can read more about Minister Birmingham here on his website.

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Reminder! Anti-Poverty Week 2015

11-17 October - what will your school do?

Anti-Poverty Week in 2015 starts on Sunday 11 October and ends on Saturday 17 October. The United Nation’s International Anti-Poverty Day is Saturday 17 October.

If your school is on vacation at that time, you may still join in with an event when you return in Term 4, or look for local organisations on the Anti-Poverty website who ran events and could come to your next assembly to talk about why they support the effort.

The Week focuses on poverty around the world, especially in the poorest countries but also in wealthier countries such as Australia and the official website is at

Its main aims are to:

  • strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world and within Australia
  • encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations and governments.

Teachers may want to consider assigning assembly presentations or themed lessons - there are many resources on the website here.

If you have any questions about activities for the week, please contact the organisers on 1300-797-290 or

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national conference

More than 300 delegates from parent-school organisations around Australia voted the recently national conference a great success.  

Participants enjoyed presentations from speakers who represent the cutting edge of major trends in society in general and education in particular, including tech-communications giant, Google, and a number of leading researchers and innovators.

Stay tuned for our conference updates appearing soon on the ACSSO website,


acsso 2015 conference pic montage

Postcard from... South Africa!


Equal Education is a movement of learners, parents, teachers and community members working for quality and equality in South African education, through analysis and activism.

According to the organisation's home page, the Equal Education movement in South Africa aims to create greater equality for all children attending schools in that country.

20 years after Nelson Mandela's release from prison the education received by young people in South Africa remains vastly unequal... Education was the foundation upon which inequality was fashioned during the years of apartheid, but unequal educational opportunities still remain amongst the greatest obstacles to equality, dignity and freedom in today's South Africa.

Somewhat different to other organisations we have featured in our postcards, Equal Education has active branches all over the country and its headquarters are in Khayelitsha, a well known working class area of Cape Town.   The organisation was founded in Khayelitsha in February 2008 when local research showed how clearly under-resourcing affected the educational outcomes for students in the community's schools. 

One interesting aspect of the Equal Education structure for Australian readers is that the organisation states its most active members are students in years 8-12, who are called 'Equalisers'.

Equalisers have a leading role in the activities of the organisation. They, along with parents, teachers, activists and community members, work with EE to improve schools in their communities, and they set an example to their peers through their dedication to their own education.

You may like to visit to find out more about this reform-driven organisation.  You can also follow @equal_education on Twitter or like the Facebook page.

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