Australian Technical Colleges
Australian Technical Colleges (ATCs) were a class of Australian senior secondary school funded by the Australian federal government between 2005 and 2009. The Australian Technical College program ceased on 31 December 2009. All 24 ATCs were integrated into existing education and training systems (state/territory government, Catholic and Anglican), with some continuing as stand-alone independent schools.
They delivered vocational education courses to Year 11 and 12 students, predominantly 16- to 18-year-olds. Some colleges had a single campus, while others had multiple campuses.
According to the Australian constitution, education is the responsibility of the state and territory governments; although the federal government does partially fund private schools, vocational and higher education. Vocational education funding however was previously funnelled through the states and territories. These colleges' direct federal funding is thus unusual for this reason alone. Their appearance was part of the breakdown of cooperative federalism caused by the increasing centralism of the Howard government and party-political differences with the state and territory governments. Another expression of this was the demise of the former Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) which expressed the political and industrial settlement on training of the 1990s.
In 2005, the federal government chose the areas in which these schools were to be established, then advertised for tenders. Some successful tenderers were state or territory governments, others were church groups, others were for-profit companies. Some were combinations of these. Thus some resulting ATCs were government schools, while others are private schools that are predominantly government funded, and at least one exists as a campus-within-a-campus at a state school and a church school. Such a mixed sectoral body of schools had not existed in Australia before, nor had any government founded a private school. Both these firsts also make the colleges unusual.
It is widely accepted that the concept was based on a model developed by Fr Leo Donnelly Parish Priest of St Agnes Catholic Parish Port Macquarie NSW. Known as St Joseph's Vocational College, this specialist Vocational Education and Training (VET) school was opened in 1979 and had paved the way for effective integration of VET courses into the inflexible NSW HSC curriculum. At the time The Hon Mark Vaile, Deputy Prime Minister, who was the local member for the area was credited as bringing the concept to the attention of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the ATC's were created. Subsequently St Joseph's Vocational College became the first and largest of the ATC's
In spite of the large scale success of many of the Colleges and the comparative low cost of their establishment and operation they were shut down by the Rudd Government in 2008 in favour of the Trade Training Centre (TTC) scheme.
List of former ATCs
- New South Wales
- Hunter (now Hunter Trade College)
- Port Macquarie (now Newman Senior Technical College)
- Western Sydney (now Anglican Technical College - Western Sydney)
- Central Western NSW (now Central West Trade College)
- Central Coast (Gosford)
- Northern Territory
- Gold Coast (now Australian Industry Trade College - Robina)
- North Brisbane (now Australian Trade College North Brisbane)
- North Queensland (Townsville)
- Australian Technology and Trade College
- South Australia
- Northern Adelaide (now St Patrick's Technical College)
- Adelaide South (now Marcellin Technical College)
- Spencer Gulf and Outback (Port Augusta/Whyalla)
- Western Australia