Values and education policy

Melbourne Declaration

Activity: Review the ethical values that underpin schooling in Australia

Shared values such as respect and a ‘fair go’ are part of Australia’s common democratic way of life, which also includes equality, freedom and the rule of law. These values reflect our commitment to a multicultural and environmentally sustainable society where all are entitled to justice. (MCEETYA 2005).

In 2005 MCEETYA published the National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools, outlining the ethical values that underpin schooling in Australia.

Read these values and discuss the following questions for each one listed in the Values Education framework:

  • Do you agree with each of values? If not, why not? If so, why?
  • Can you think of any (important) values that are missing from the list and should be added?
  • Using the list and/or your own list of values, do you think some of the values are more important than the others? Explain your reasons.
  • Can you think of a situation or circumstance when adopting one of the values would mean contravening other values? How would you decide which value is more important and why?
  • Do you think Australia is a fair and just nation? Why/Why not?
  • Have all Australians always enjoyed the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship? Explain your answer.
  • Do you think all Australians are treated fairly in today’s society? Explain your reasons and give examples if you can.

The Melbourne Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008, p. 9) states that active and informed citizens:

  • act with moral and ethical integrity
  • appreciate Australia’s social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, and have an understanding of Australia’s system of government, history and culture
  • understand and acknowledge the value of Indigenous cultures and possess the knowledge, skills and understanding to contribute to, and benefit from reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
  • are committed to national values of democracy, equity and justice, and participate in Australia’s civic life
  • are able to relate to and communicate across cultures, especially the cultures and countries of Asia
  • work for the common good, in particular sustaining and improving natural and social environments
  • are responsible global and local citizens.

Discuss your response to these questions:

  • What values are explicitly described and implicitly expressed in this list?
  • Do you agree with them? Explain your reasons for agreeing/disagreeing?
  • Do you think there are values that all Australians share?

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Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) 2005, National Framework for Values Education in Australian Schools, Australian Government, Canberra, viewed 23 August 2016, <>.

MCEETYA 2008, Melbourne Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians, Australian Government, Canberra, viewed 23 August 2016,<>.