Edith Cowan University
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
Since public funds first began to flow into non-government schools in the mid-1970s, successive Commonwealth and state governments have steadily increased the amount of funding they have provided to nongovernment schools (Bonnor & Caro, 2007; Macfarlane, 2003). The outcome of this funding decision has brought the cost of a ‘private school education’ within reach of many more Australian families in the 21st century (Rothman, 2003; Symes & Gulson, 2005). This paper explores the historical backdrop within which secondary schooling is provided in Western Australian today in order to better understand how it influences and/or predisposes the secondary school choices currently available to parents in Western Australia. The issue of funding is considered within an historical account of Australia’s dual system of school provision whereby government and non-government school sectors operate in parallel. Details of successive changes to state and Commonwealth school funding policies in Australia since the early 1970s provide a backdrop for consideration of the impact of funding on school choice.