AHISA maintains a strong advocacy effort on behalf of members and their school communities in both the political and public domains, through submissions to government, consultations with politicians and their advisers and engagement with the media.
Concerned by the way deficit model thinking about school reform has dominated policy discourse and media commentary, AHISA has invited politicians and policy makers to consider the process of policy making itself. AHISA advocates for a strengths-based approach to education policy, which recognises the professional expertise of educators and the capacity of schools for innovation and entrepreneurial effort.
AHISA’s members lead diverse schools, ranging in size from less than 200 enrolments to multi-campus schools with over 3,000 enrolments. Members’ schools are located in major city, regional and remote areas and the communities they serve are among the least advantaged and most advantaged in Australia.
In seeking to amplify the voice of its members, AHISA believes it is important to represent the diversity in schooling provision the membership embodies, and promote diversity and choice as strengths of Australia’s education system. To capture the diverse experiences of members and the broad range of challenges they face, AHISA conducts member surveys to inform its submissions.
In 2017-19, substantive submissions were made to a number of reviews and consultations, including: the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (the ‘Gonski 2.0 Review’); an investigation by the Chief Scientist into optimising STEM industry-school partnerships; the Religious Freedom Review (the ‘Ruddock Review’); the Closing the Gap Refresh consultation; a Senate inquiry into the effectiveness of current temporary skilled visa system; a House of Representatives inquiry into the status of the teaching profession; the Expert Review of Australia’s VET System; a consultation on the National Strategy for Regional, Rural and Remote Education; and the NAPLAN Reporting Review.
In keeping with AHISA’s tradition of advocating on student welfare issues, submissions were also made on the Draft National Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026 and to a Senate inquiry into gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items, which examined concerns that some video game applications are a form of gambling.
In 2018, following a call by Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Hon Charles Abel, that Australia establish a scholarship program to place PNG students in Australian boarding schools, AHISA worked with the Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA) on a submission to the Minister for Foreign Affairs with recommendations to support the successful implementation of such a program. In 2019, AHISA and ABSA were invited to consult further with departmental officials.
During the biennium AHISA established a valuable collaborative relationship with Christian Schools Australia, which generously shared its understanding of discrimination law as AHISA prepared submissions to and appeared at hearings for Parliamentary inquiries relating to exemptions to anti-discrimination laws for faith-based educational institutions.