Our History ...
APC was born in 1962, as a result of a parent protest about the unfair distribution of public funds for schools.
Monday 16 July 1962
Parents of more than 2,000 Catholic school students presented their children for enrolment at government schools in Goulburn NSW, following a disagreement about who would pay for new facilities at a local Catholic School. Their action highlighted the unjust way public funds for schools were distributed and resulted in one of Australia’s great social movements.
22 July, 1962
The enormous nation-wide publicity generated by their action led to a meeting of 900 people where the following was moved:
‘This meeting approves and authorises the setting up of an Australia-wide Federal organisation which shall be non-party political and non-denominational whose chief objectives will be:
i. To maintain the campaign for freedom of choice without penalty for all parents in accordance right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, and
ii. Recognising that our schools are an integral part of the Australian education system – lend full support to other citizen organisations in their efforts to improve Australian education standards generally.’
25 August 1962
More than 200 parents from across Australia met in Goulburn to decide the details of the new national organisation. The Australian Parents Council for the Advancement of Education was formed, with this significant addition in the formal motion of establishment:
‘Realizing that independent schools are an integral part of the Australian education system – to lend full support to other citizen organisations in their efforts to improve Australian educational standards generally.’
Our Objectives ...
We believe that active and empowered parents and carers can, and do, make a significant difference to children’s achievement.
We are not-for-profit, non-denominational and non-party political, funded by parents and supported by government. We provide an independent parent voice on education issues and are widely consulted.
We advocate for:
- school choice
- parent voice
- equity in access and funding
- quality education for all students.
APC is made up of a number of state and territory affiliate organisations, and work with stakeholders and governments to bring about inclusive education reform.
We always want to hear from parents and encourage you to get involved. We can also provide advice, information and links to specialist help on all sorts of education issues. We offer a number of support programs and training, including a nationally recognised Cert IV qualification in Parent, Family and Community Engagement.
Don Ryan - TAS
Bhavika Unnadkat - VIC
Jenny Branch-Allen - TAS
Kim Richards - NSW
Ilham Sabry Ahamed - QLD
Pak-Luan Yeoh - NSW
Karen Robertson - NSW
APC profiles: Who are we?
Jenni Rickard, ACT
What expertise and experience do you bring to APC? Mum to 3 teenage boys, passion, commitment to achieving equity in education, many years volunteering in schools and sport and a background in Community Development.
Why did you join APC? I stumbled into it! I didn't know there was a peak body for non-government school parents until I was introduced to it via another parent at my kids school. And I am so glad I did!
What do you hope APC can achieve? That all parents believe in their power to influence and inspire their children to achieve their educational goals.
What do you think are the top three education issues in Australia today? Only 3! Gosh! The wellbeing of our kids post Covid has to be number 1. This includes the re-engaging of those that have struggled with alternative educational arrangements AND allowing those who have discovered a better alternative the ability to continue to utilise their new-found safe and secure educational setting. 2. Ensuring transparency and accountability of all facets of our education system. Last but by no means least, that all parents feel empowered to engage with their children's education beyond traditional means and in ways that are useful to them.
Colette Wood, WA
What expertise and experience do you bring to APC? My greatest and most challenging experience is that of being a mum of an amazing daughter, who keeps me on my toes! To the world outside my family, I have been a finance professional for over 20 years and I bring my operational, governance and advocacy skills to the very talented team at APC and am grateful for the shared learning experience.
Why did you join APC? As a single Mum working full time, it bothered me that I could not attend the parents and friends associations meetings as they were generally held during the day. Whilst I held relationships with the teachers, I personally felt unable to influence or provide a strong voice in the direction of the school environment and education in general to benefit both my daughter but also the wider community - interestedly, it was connection to my early education and an old primary school friend (Jenni) who contacted me so see if I would be interested in joining APC and I was sold!
What do you hope APC can achieve? I think APC really has the ability to influence and Inform the government on behalf of all parents and student to enact change for an inclusive, diverse and collaborative education system to support students in all fields of study.
What do you think are the top three education issues in Australia today? There are so many challenges for our kids and the education system, personally I see the ongoing and continual improvement for 1) student and education staff mental health programmes 2) the ongoing focus to ensure all education is valued and supported whatever path the students choose 3) drug and alcohol education and support.
Don Ryan, Tasmania
What expertise and experience do you bring to APC? I have an involvement with Schools over many years, on School Boards, Advisory Committees, and other voluntary positions. I also have a lengthy background in Finance which has been of benefit in undertaking the requirements of the various positions I have held/currently hold. After retiring from Banking, I have taken up a part time position working in a school, which also assists me appreciate and see first-hand the needs of parents and students.
Why did you join APC? As part of my role of Executive Officer for the Tasmanian Catholic Schools Parents Council (TCSPC), I nominated to be the TCSPC representative on APC. As the title indicates, we are a voice and representative for parents of children in catholic schools, and the TCSPC have had a long involvement with APC.
What do you hope APC can achieve? I hope (and expect it will) APC continue to be a voice for parents across Australia, and a voice that can reach the relevant government organisations and politicians. I also hope that APC continues to add value to parents and students through initiatives taken, and that these initiatives enable students to reach their potential. By helping parents, we directly help their children.
What do you think are the top three education issues in Australia today There are a range of issues. Of course COVID19 and all the issues that this has caused (eg time away from school), is an obvious one. Other issues that are front of mind are cyber bullying and associated matters, and anxiety that many children (and parents) are suffering from in today’s world.
Bhavika Unnadkat, Victoria
What expertise and experience do you bring to APC? Organisational Management, Strategy, Stakeholder Engagement, Data Analytics and Insights.
Why did you join APC? Australian Parents Council involvement helps you stay connected with the school across Australia and allows you to gain a broader perspective of how I can play a supportive role.
What do you hope APC can achieve? I really hope APC can provide a platform for parents to network and make connections with other parents, business partners in our community and agencies that share a common goal of student achievement.
Working in partnership together helps build a stronger foundation for students to grow and thrive.
What do you think are the top three education issues in Australia today?
1. Coming from a STEM background I see declining participation in science and maths
2. Australian teens are falling behind, as others race ahead.
3. Preparing students for futuristic roles, rather than current one's.
What expertise and experience do you bring to APC? Having commenced my career in Assurance Services, my formal qualifications and experience span diverse fields such as Finance, Governance, Education and Media. I am a Chartered Accountant with an MBA in Finance and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. I share the insight I have gained, both professionally and personally, having lived in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and of course Australia. I currently serve on the board of one of Queenland’s largest independent schools and have been associated with the independent schooling sector since 2011.
Why did you join APC? Being the mother of two teenage daughters, educating young minds and performing it in a conscientous manner, resonates with me deeply. To achieve this, parents need to be educated and empowered so they can engage in a mutually respectful partnership with their children’s educators. The work APC does in this space and and its engagement with the government, peak bodies and various stakeholders to bring about meaningful education reform, were the motivating factors to join APC.
What do you hope APC can achieve? Firstly, that awareness is created Australia-wide about APC, especially amongst parents of all children attending independent schools.This would enable APC to be a true representative and agent for these parents. I also hope that through APC, parents’ voices are heard and acted upon, as parents/caregivers play a pivotal role in shaping their children’s educational journey.
What do you think are the top three education issues in Australia today?
1. Australian students’ continuous decline in performance at international assessments over the past two decades (eg: PISA). It is concerning that the decline observed, is not only against other nations, but also in absolute terms.
2. Ensuring that our schools are free of bullying and discrimination and that active measures are in place to ensure the mental wellbeing of every student in Australia.
3. To explore a more meaningful measure for tertiary entry, rather than the current practice of employing a single score ie the ATAR, that seems reductive in nature and has various shortcomings which can be detrimental to students.
Pak-Luan Yeoh, NSW
What expertise and experience do you bring to APC? I have been an investment professional and research analyst for over 20 years, developing a keen understanding of business and industry trends and have a strong financial and governance background. I am qualified as a CFA Charter holder and am also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Why did you join APC? I appreciate how critical education and training has been to people seeking fulfilling employment and adapting to changes in the workforce. I am deeply interested in helping young people develop a love of learning which I believe will set them up for life when seeking careers and developing their full potential. I joined the board of Australian Parents Council as it has a proud history of collaborating with various bodies to improve school and vocational outcomes for young Australians.
What do you hope APC can achieve? Australia has a track record of providing an internationally competitive education for its young people. We need to continue to prioritise education and training by having students, parents, teachers, schools, the community and government, engaged and working well together.
Kim Richards, NSW
What expertise and experience do you bring to APC? I am a qualified educator who has worked in both primary and high school settings, despite spending the majority of my 25-year career in content marketing, publishing and communications.
I am the mother of three (and stepmother to two) school-aged children, who attend a variety of educational settings, from private to public, single-sex, and specialist.
Why did you join APC? The core purpose and goals of the organisation resonate with me. I believe my dual perspective, both within the educational setting and looking in on it, could provide valuable insight to the organisation.
My experience as a trainer and communicator may also assist in the various projects being undertaken by APC.
What do you hope APC can achieve? The Australian Education system has many challenges when it comes to providing equitable education for all students - across socioeconomics, geographies, genders and so forth. Parents can be a powerful resource when it comes to addressing some of these challenges; if their voices are heard, their social capital is leveraged well, and they are brought into the decision-making process early. APC is well-positioned to identify and activate this parent-resource.
What do you think are the top three education issues in Australia today? Equity, equity and equity.
Equity of resources, equity of access and equity of funding.