Victorian school students to join government boards

| November 2, 2017

From 2018, it will become mandatory for student representatives to be elected to Victorian Government school councils (boards) and given full voting rights.

The three main functions of Victorian Government school councils are overseeing annual budgets, strategic plans and school policies.  They can also be involved in raising funds for school-related purposes, maintaining school grounds and facilities, reporting annually to the school community, and representing and taking the views of the community into account.

The Government announcement focuses on leadership stating, “Students elected to school councils will get training to help build their leadership capacity, so they can become better leaders both at their school and in the broader community.”

Announcing the change, Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said:  “This has been an issue that students have repeatedly raised with me in my time as Minister and I am very proud to say we will be taking action.”

“Young people should have a say in the future direction of their school. We want our kids to be future leaders in our communities and developing these skills is a crucial step in making that happen.”
“These student members will have full voting rights on the council and it is our expectation will play a key role in deciding the future direction of the school.”

The Liberal Opposition’s education spokesman Tim Smith opposes the change and has been quoted as saying, saying the Victorian government was”obsessed with turning our schools into a post-modernist nirvana”.

Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals president Judy Crowe said many schools already had students on their councils who had a “very important voice”.   But she cautioned that the change needs to be practical particularly in rural areas where driving at night might be required to attend meetings.

The Commissioner for Children and Young People Liana Buchanan supports the change saying, “I think we need to get much better at recognising that children and young people have the expertise and can make a contribution, rather than assuming that adults know best.” 

This article first appeared on the Australian Leadership blogspot and is published with permission of the author.