Understanding for action : frontiers and opportunities for schooling

My latest publication, a chapter on schooling policy in the newest cover social policy in australiaedition of Social Policy in Australia: Understanding for Action has just been released.

It looks at issues and opportunities in education policy.

As the chapter argues, education is the bedrock of a successful society. It benefits individuals, communities and the nation. Relative to other developed nations, Australia’s education system is relatively high performing but with sub par equity. Decades of reforms and increased spending by state and Commonwealth have had minimal impact reducing this inequality or improving excellence.

Contributing to these challenges is the uneasy relationship between choice and equity – competing principles that have been ever present in education policy in Australia. The book can be bought on Oxford University Press’ website and from university bookstores. To whet your appetite, you can read an edited extract discussing the choice and equity aspect on MI Brief, the Mitchell Institute’s blog.


Renewing federalism in education and beyond

parliament house in autumn The Prime Minister’s announcement of a White Paper into the Reform of the Federation has spurred a welcome increase in interest in Australia’s federal system. The effectiveness of the division of policy responsibilities, fiscal settings, intergovernmental relations and institutions will all go under the microscope. The first issues paper – A Federation for our Future – makes the case for our federal system, succinctly recounts its evolution since 1901 and sets out goals, principles and reform priorities.  Four more issues papers will follow, with an education one canvassing early childhood, schooling and tertiary education expected later this year. (I can’t wait!)

Complementing this government process, the Australian National University’s Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at the Crawford School of Public Policy and the University of Melbourne’s School of Government organised Renewing Federalism – a series of articles in The Conversation and a public symposium on 2 October. I was honoured to participate in both components. My piece on schooling policy is here.  Do check out the other articles too.

If you would like to attend the symposium, please see event details and RSVP here.  A link to the recording of the symposium will soon be made available.  (Photograph of one of Parliament House’s internal courtyards taken by myself in 2005).


Innovation in education – leadership from below

We talk a lot about the importance of innovation in education – as we should.  We talk less about how to foster, sustain and share successful innovations that enhance student learning and engagement. This is a pity. In this recent expert comment article for The Conversation, I discuss the astonishingly blunt and honest comments of Victoria’s education chief, outlining why the states rather than the Commonwealth government should drive education policy. It was encouraging to hear a very senior bureaucrat, who has worked at both state and federal levels, concur with my PhD findings on the opportunities our federal system of government offers for innovative and best-practice policy-making, tailored to the needs of their residents.  Could this be the dawn of a new era in education federalism in Australia?

I also spoke recently on Radio National‘s Drive program on the controversial “IBM school” in Brooklyn, New York. I argue that such innovations, when developed carefully to meet the needs of students at a particular school, can work wonders. Dismissing them as “US-style corporate schools” is a missed opportunity to learn how new models of schooling can improve excellence and equity here in Australia.



Bronwyn Hinz researches and teaches public policy and Australian politics at the University of Melbourne, where she is completing a PhD on school funding and federalism. Her innovative research has won her multiple national and international awards, and a Visiting Scholar position at Columbia University in New York last year. Her book, Many Hopes, One Dream was published in 2009 by Australian Scholarly Publishing and launched by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and former Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner.  This was the first book written on Australia's united ethnic movement and has been described as essential reading for those wishing to understand Australia's rapid and harmonious transformation to become a multicultural nation.

Bronwyn is a contributor to the ABC’s Drum Unleashed, Uneek magazine, and a regular guest on SBS French radio. She has worked for two federal politicians, including Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research; Per Capita; the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria; the Contemporary Europe Research Centre; and the Education Foundation. She holds degrees from the University of Melbourne and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, better known as Sciences Po.

Her research covers Australian politics, comparative public policy, education reform, federalism, governance, interest groups and multiculturalism. Bronwyn is based in Melbourne and available for comment, written analysis and speaking engagements worldwide.

Contact me:

E: bronwynhinz (AT) gmail (DOT) com T: (+61) 402 077 976