Victoria was one of the first states in the world to introduce free education for children. The Education Act of 1872 provided that education should be “free, compulsory and secular.”
The Education Departments Policy and Advisory Library (PAL) states that:
Victorian government schools must provide students with free instruction and ensure students have free access to all items, activities and services that are used by the school to fulfil the curriculum requirements in the 8 key learning areas as outlined in the Victorian Curriculum F–10, the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL).
However, Victorian government schools are permitted to request voluntary payments from parents under 3 categories:
Curriculum Contributions are voluntary financial contributions for curriculum items and activities which the school deems necessary for students to learn the Curriculum. Schools must be able to justify why an item or activity has been categorised as necessary to the school’s delivery of the Curriculum.
Other Contributions are voluntary financial contributions for non-curriculum items and activities that relate to the school’s functions and objectives. They can be requested for a broad area of school need or itemised for a clearly explained specific purpose.
Extra-Curricular Items and Activities
Extra-Curricular Items and Activities are items and activities that enhance or broaden the schooling experience of students and are above and beyond what the school provides for free in order to deliver the Curriculum. Extra-Curricular Items and Activities are provided on a user-pays basis. They include optional excursions and camps, optional sporting or music programs, and materials that don’t relate to the Curriculum such as school magazines.
Within the context of the current system, Parents Victoria believes that:
- Schools should always make it clear exactly what parent payments are to be used for
- It should be clear that voluntary payments are just that: voluntary
- No child should miss out on educational opportunities because of their family’s inability to pay.
Our Policy document states that:
Parents Victoria denies the right of Governments or schools to implement a scheme of compulsory school fees charged against parents, especially as a means of supplementing resourcing of a high quality Government school system.
Non-payment of requests must not result in students being denied access to any school program or activity, in parents being harassed or students being punished in any way.
- Education Department School costs and fees page. A good introduction to the rules and principles around school levies.
- Education Department Help with school costs and fees page.
- Policy and Advisory Library (PAL) – Education Department policy around school levies (they refer to them as “parent payments”, including arrangements for families experiencing financial hardship.
- Understanding Parent Payment Categories – PDF download from the Education Department, explains what parents can be asked to pay for and why.