Bringing Cinderella to the ball: constructing a federal system of technical and further education in Australia, 1971-1975

Peter Rushbrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Australian vocational education has a history dating from the late eighteenth century. As Australian colonies and, later, federated states evolved each constructed its own version of vocational education provision. Generally the systems, consisting of community based or state controlled colleges for the training of operatives, apprenticeships and professional support personnel, were poorly resourced and lacked powerful sponsors to support and promote the education and training of their mostly working class students. By the early 1970s Australian governments had developed commissions to supplement the funding of state-based elementary, secondary and university education systems, even though under the Australian Constitution education remained state-controlled matter. A reformist federal Labor government at the time consolidated elementary, secondary and university funding but neglected to consider, or even acknowledge, the 400 000 vocational education students not covered by these commissions. Following pressure from vocational education teacher unions, among others, the Labor government established the Australian Committee for Technical and Further Education (ACOTAFE) to address the needs of these students. At ACOTAFE's first meeting on 25 March 1973, the Minister for Education Kim E Beazley said, 'It will be a renaissance in education when technical and further education cease to be Cinderellas in education. It is the role of your committee to bring Cinderella to her rightful role as princess.' ACOTAFE was to be chaired by Myer Kangan from the Department of Labour and National Service. The committee's published outcomes were referred to evermore as the iconic 'Kangan Report' rather than TAFE in Australia: report on needs in Technical and Further Education, its formal title. The report gave Australian vocational education a name (TAFE) a philosophy (access to all through lifelong learning) and much needed capital works and infrastructure fundThe paper will outline the circumstances leading to the formation of the committee, its work and its outcomes. Focus will be placed on the influential role of Chairman Kangan in shaping ACOTAFE's conclusions. A key theme within the paper is the intersection of biography, politics and the economy in shaping policy construction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-54
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Educational Administration and History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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