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December 5, 2002

Across the States of Australia

Australia, the land down under, is a hot bed of activity. Several of its states are presently engaged in revising their education laws. Unfortunately the provisions for home education in particular are generally being tightened to a greater extent.

In Queensland, homeschoolers are required to be "registered" or licensed teachers. According to when homeschool leader Terry Harding, who represents over 500 homeschool families, "We practice non compliance!" For the vast majority of homeschoolers, this strategy is working.

Social workers too, have caused some problems. Last year there was a raid on a homeschool family by the Welfare Authorities. Fortunately, the case was somewhat bungled by the authorities and subsequently resolved by the family's lawyer. The result has been a more positive attitude in local authorities toward to the homeschoolers.

In New South Wales, the Minister for Education recently attempted to introduce regulations for home education that clearly were not supported by his legal authority, and were disallowed by Parliament. This has not stopped the Board of Studies in that State from insisting the homeschool guidelines (which are not enforceable by law) are followed by home educators. One family who challenged the guidelines succeeded in full registration without conditions. Subsequently, a group of home educators followed the same path, achieving condition free registration as well. Homeschoolers are attempting to work with the Board of Studies to hopefully ensure that future guidelines and regulations are far more home education friendly.

The South Australian government announced a review of the education laws in that state late last year. Home educators have been actively involved in the consultation process in an effort to ensure that administration procedures for home education are fair and reasonable.

In Western Australia, the School Education Bill is entering the last phase before it becomes law. Home educators lobbied for amendments to the bill, demanding conditions of accountability that are non discriminatory. Although these amendments were recommended by the Upper House [Legislative Council], the Lower House [Legislative Assembly] rejected them and has proceeded to push the Bill through with some extremely discriminatory provisions. Home educators are now considering their options for further action. The recent serving of summonses to three home educating families demonstrates that the authorities are clamping down on conscientious objectors who refuse to register. These cases are proceeding to court over the next couple of months.

The recent establishment of the Kingdom Defense Fund has increased the security of home educators around the country. The fund is dedicated to assisting the defense of home education.

The two major homeschool research projects undertaken in Australia are gaining higher public profile. Two lecturers from the University of Western Australia are in the process of preparing an agenda for the next stage in academic research on the emergence of home education in Australia as an educational alternative.

The Home Education Research and Legal Information Network (HERLIN) is succeeding in networking the many home education groups and associations around Australia. This informal group is the only known nationally coordinated body that is freely accessible [via the internet] to anyone who is interested in home education issues.

HSLDA has been working for the last few years with Melinda Waddy who established HERLIN providing research, resources, and legal strategy. HSLDA also provided advice on establishing a legal defense fund and has corresponded with government officials.

To visit the HERLIN site, access . This site has links to other pages of the network and contact details for coordinators in each state.