Former public education inquiry head Tony Vinson dies

Chair of the 2002 Independent Inquiry into the Provision of Public Education in NSW, Tony Vinson, died on February 17.

“His life’s work whether it be his ground-breaking prison reform or his inquiry into public education has always been underpinned by a commitment to social justice,” Federation President Maurie Mulheron said.

When Mr Vinson was bestowed with Federation Life Membership in 2003, then Federation President Maree O’Halloran wrote: “It is without doubt that the integrity and credibility of Professor Vinson himself ensured that governments, the media and the public accepted that the Inquiry was independent.”

The Vinson Inquiry was commissioned and funded by the Teachers Federation and the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations to take stock of the current situation for public education and provide recommendations for the future.

Mr Vinson’s inquiry team conducted 28 public hearings, more than 150 schools and TAFE colleges visits and received 770 submissions in one year.

The Inquiry’s in-depth report identified where additional funding could be found to improve the public education system over 10 years. Subsequently, education was a major issue at the 2003 state election. The Inquiry’s research base became the focus of future campaigning by the Federation and the public education community.

Tony Vinson had a varied career in education, government services, social research and community development, including many projects related to scholarship and young people.

This article is largely an edited version of an article in Federation’s 2003 Life membership booklet.