Julia Gillard

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Public Education Day 2020

I first became a supporter of public education in 1967. That was the year when, as a terrified five-year old migrant girl with continuing traces of a Welsh accent, I started at Mitcham Infants School. I can easily recall how big the play area seemed and the unfamiliar routine of filing in and out of classrooms. But I also remember the kindness and professionalism of the teachers, who wanted their young pupils to both learn and find joy in doing so.

My public education continued at Mitcham Primary School and Unley High, all in suburban Adelaide. Like every child, I liked some teachers more than others, had my share of playground spats and varied in the degree of interest I had in different subjects.

As a result, not every day of school was fun, but every day mattered. It would have been impossible for me to have lived the life I have without my great public education.

However, my schooling was about more than getting out the best in each individual.It focussed on creating a sense of togetherness, of community.

With its welcome all comers attitude, public education is, and has always been, dedicated to creating the best kind of society. It teaches us to accept, respect and share, to be an open-hearted and inclusive Australia. For that, on this day, we say thank you, loudly and proudly.

Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia