Saturday 12:00pm to 1:00pm
The Australian Council for the Defence of Government Schools (DOGS) looks at public education and separation of church and state.

Jean Ely and Dale Bridge



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About DOGS

In English.  Presented by Jean Ely and Dale Bridge with regular contributors: Madeleine Ely, Sorrell Tucker and Oliver.

Since the 1964 the Australian Council for the Defence of Government Schools (DOGS) has been fighting for public education with two main objectives: the promotion and protection of public education with the separation of Church and State and opposition to public funding of private religious schools

Were it not been for 3CR there would be no strong voice for public education in Victoria as the mainstream media, whether it was the press, the radio or the TV, has tried to tried to silence DOGS by refusing to allow DOGS to contribute to the education debate, in spite of the continual supply of information. Before they began broadcasting on 3CR DOGS members personally delivered many Press Releases to the printed and spoken media. They were ignored.

In the 1980s, before they began recording on 3CR DOGS complained to the Press Council regarding the failure of the press, particularly The Age for their refusal to allow DOGS, through media releases to put their views to Age readers. As a result of this censorship the only way that DOGS have been able to put their message into the mainstream media has been through their 3CR DOGS program, paid advertisements and the website.

DOGS have unambiguously supported a genuine public system of education. This is defined as a free, secular and universal education system. Such a system regards education as a right, not a charity. This system has enabled working class children to obtain an education from primary to tertiary levels. It systematically undermined the rigid class systems of the “Old World”. Our public systems are a proud inheritance from the nineteenth century when those in the liberal dissenting tradition were prepared to confront their religious opponents and extend educational opportunities to all children.

Bureaucrats and politicians have always refused to count the taxation exemptions, otherwise known as tax expenditures, provided to church schools because they are “charitable”! Nor are the incremental per capita costs of public education included in funding statistics. The cost to the nation of the duplication of public systems by any religious organisation that wishes to commence a school is a scandal hiding under the guise of “values education”. What can be more valuable to a nation than a free secular, universal education for all children? What can be worse than the division of the community from the cradle to the grave by priests, parsons, or any other variety of religious person?

The Victorian Public education system is currently under threat of privatization through private/public partnerships; a new legislative framework which undermines the free and secular concepts; and lack of adequate funding.

An aggressive private church sector, together with the mainstream media, have been systematically undermining the public system throughout Australia. Extensive State aid to church institutions has enabled multiple religious groups to duplicate, triplicate, etc. facilities and attract able pupils with scholarships.

The 3CR DOGS program has been on the air since 3CR moved to Cromwell Street, Collingwood in 1974, first doing interviews with Bill Hartley on his famous 3CR Par Avion program on Saturday mornings. Then, after DOGS no longer stood candidates for elections, we applied for our own spot. Bill Hartley kindly let us have the 7.00 – 7.30 a.m. spot. We went to air with the assistance of Dave Kingham as our producer. Dave was a committed 3CR producer who owned Imprenta Press. He was responsible for a lot of the protest material around 3CR in those days.

We introduce our DOGS program every Saturday with the eightfold definition of public education. This definition is as follows: A public system is one that is public in purpose; outcome; access (to all children, parents, teachers etc. regardless of their class, colour creed or geographical location); ownership; control; funding; accountability and provision. Given the above, public education is the one system that must be publicly funded.

We have been supported by our listeners both financially and with information. Never before has public education needed strong support and proper factual information than it does at the moment. Both major parties are backing the private church school rather than the public school vote, and the public funding of private church schools is above $5 billion in direct funding from Canberra alone. This figure represents the tip of a much larger funding iceberg.

Through our radio program DOGS have been able to put to air the various battles for public schools. For example, DOGS have opposed privatization of education since the 1960s. We gave coverage to the State Schools are Great Schools campaign in the late 1980s and the battle for Richmond Secondary College in 1992/93. DOGS were also involved in the first S11 protests at the Casino and have campaigned against the GATS since 2000.

In the period 1964 to1981 DOGS were involved in a long, expensive High Court case questioning the validity of Commonwealth aid to church schools. Although DOGS lost this case, in the process they proved that the Church Schools were prepared to deny their religious underpinnings in order to lessen the danger of losing public funding. There was a 27 day ‘Trial of Facts’ in this case in which the defendants claimed in the Facts that ‘ Catholic schools in Australia are not conducted for religious or confessional purposes’. To find out more about this case you can purchase a copy of 'Contempt of Court' written by Jean Ely online from the 3CR shop here.

The presenters of the 3CR DOGS program since 1987 are Ray Nilsen and Jean Miller. They each have a number of degrees including law degrees. Jean has been a secondary teacher, as well as a TAFE and tertiary lecturer since 1961. She vowed in that year that she would always fight for the working class children in our state systems of education. Her children have all been through the State system and are university trained and her grandchildren are enrolled in state schools. Raymond has also been involved in the battle for public education since the 1960s.

Readers can find out more about DOGS, the High Court case, and the battle for public education if they visit our website at and listen to our Saturday broadcasts on 3CR.