The Education Act was passed 150 years ago, in Victoria on 17 December 1872. This legislation made the colony of Victoria one of the first jurisdictions in the world to offer free, compulsory and secular education to its children. Public education was now administered by the centralised Victorian Department of Education.

Subsequent to the Act, education was free, children were obliged to attend school from the age of 6 to 15, and secular instruction promoted fairness and harmony in a society then riven by sectarianism. Before 1872 most schools were controlled by Catholic or Protestant churches or were privately operated, and many children were not receiving an education at all. To accommodate the increase in the number of students, a major school building program took place throughout the colony during the 1870s and 1880s, overseen by architect Henry Robert Bastow (1839–1920). Many of these beautiful neo-Gothic buildings are still operating as schools today.

Free, secular and compulsory education may have started in Victoria, but the principles underlying the Education Act of 1872 soon spread to the other colonies. By 1908, all six states of the Commonwealth of Australia had centralised government departments administering free, compulsory and secular education. Today, Australia has a robust public education system, with the majority of children attending public government schools.

Technical specifications

Issue date
11 October 2022
Issue withdrawal date
30 April 2023
$1.10 x 1
Stamp design
Simone Sakinofsky, Australia Post Design Studio
Product design
Simone Sakinofsky, Australia Post Design Studio
Paper: gummed
Tullis Russell 104gsm Red Phos.
Paper: self-adhesive
RAF Unik Stampcoat 85FSC/WG65
Southern Impact
Printing process: Gummed
Offset lithography
Printing process: Self-adhesive
Stamp size (mm)
37.5 x 26
Sheetlet size (mm)
156 x 101
13.86 x 14.6
Sheet layout
Sheetlet of 10
FDI Postmark
Melbourne VIC 3000
FDI withdrawal date
9 November 2022

Stamp in this issue

$1.10 Free, Secular & Compulsory Education: 150 Years

This stamp design combines historical photographs with modern graphic elements, to communicate the longevity of free, secular and compulsory education in Australia. In the background of the stamp design are two historical elements: a school completion certificate (from Maldon Primary School, 1880) and a photograph of Portarlington State School no. 2455. This attractive building, designed by HR Bastow, typifies school building architecture of the period and it is still in use. The graphic rendition of the child reading also provides a visual basis to highlight key information from the certificate.

State Library Victoria: Banner image: State School 1403 Dandenong Grade II, ca. 1920-ca.1954. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/358435

Shop our stamp collectables

Single stamp:

Single Free Education 150 Years Gummed Stamp

The single 150 Years of Free, Secular and Compulsory Education $1.10 gummed stamp is designed by Simone Sakinofsky.

Sheetlet pack:

Free Education 150 Years Sheetlet Pack

The 150 Years of Free, Secular and Compulsory Education sheetlet pack contains the sheetlet of 10 x $1.10 stamps from the stamp issue presented in a high-quality folder.

Sheetlet of 10:

Sheetlet of 10x Free Education 150 Years Stamps

This gummed sheetlet contains 10 x $1.10 stamps from the 150 Years of Free, Secular and Compulsory Education stamp issue.


Free Education 150 Years Maxicard

The 150 Years of Free, Secular and Compulsory Education maxicard is a prepaid postcard with the single stamp from the stamp issue affixed and postmarked on the view side.

Additional collectables:

  • Pictorial Envelope for the Free Education 150 Years Stamp Issue
  • Free Education 150 Years Postal Numismatic Cover
  • Roll of 100 Free Education 150 Years Stamps
  • Strip of One Free Education 150 Years Self-Adhesive Stamp
  • Free Education 150 Years First Day Cover (Gummed Stamp)
  • Free Education 150 Years First Day Cover (Self-Adhesive Stamp)

This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.