Student Unionism in Australia - Development - Voluntary Student Unionism

Voluntary Student Unionism

A new National Union of Students was established to replace AUS, this time with a structure designed to make it harder for constituent organisations to disaffiliate.

The collapse of AUS, coincided with a hardening of attitudes towards student unionism on the right of politics. Liberal parties around the country began to consider policies to stop student organisations from using funding from compulsory universal membership on left-wing political activities.

VSU began to gain legislative traction in the 1990s, with variations on the idea being briefly implemented in Western Australia and Victoria. VSU was also the policy of the Howard government, in power federally from 1996. Although Labor reversed the state VSU initiatives, the federal government brought in VSU legislation using its new Senate majority in 2005. VSU came into full effect at the beginning of 2007.

It wasn't just VSU that caused the student organisations problems: disputed elections, financial mismanagement and interventionist university administrations also took their toll. In the 2000s, many student organisations found themselves being liquidated or restructured by universities, losing much of their independence in the process.

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