About the Minister's Student Council

The Minister's Student Council is the peak forum for interaction between NSW public school students, NSW Education and the NSW Minister for Education.

The Minister's Student Council, known as the DOVES (Department of Student Voices in Education and Schools), was created in 2021, following a request from the NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning, Sarah Mitchell, to develop a formal structure to access student views.

Minister Mitchell meets with the Council twice a Term either virtually or face-to-face where they also participate in workshops and hear about NSW Department of Education initiatives. The Council provides advice to the Minister on education and school policy as well as feedback to aid in the planning and development of department programs.

Mission statement

To be an innovative student voice that designs, implements, and contributes to inclusive and positive change in the NSW education system.

Why is the Minister's Student Council needed?

When student lives were turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic Education Minister Sarah Mitchell realised there was no formal structure through which to access student views. “While we had principals’ organisations, teachers’ groups and parents’ groups to talk to, what was missing was the student voice,” Ms Mitchell said.

The Minister called for the formation of a Student Steering Committee in 2020 who designed the Council structure and wrote the Constitution. The Council’s structure aims to have direct input and influence on education and school policy through discussions and consultation with the Minister for Education and NSW Education stakeholders. The Minister’s Student Council is officially known as the DOVES (Department of Student Voices in Education & Schools).

What does it do?

The Council enables students right across NSW to have direct input and influence on education and school policy through discussions and consultation with the Minister for Education and NSW Education stakeholders.

The Council:

  • Provides forums for student opinions, ideas, feedback and concerns in regards to their education and schooling;

  • Represents a diverse range of student voices in order to have a direct and positive influence on education and school policy;

  • Is an advocate for positive student engagement and inclusivity through means of educational improvement and innovation in NSW schools.

The Council has provided feedback on a range of policy initiatives to date, as well as advice and insights on the return to school roadmap following periods of learning from home due to COVID-19.

How does the council operate?

The Minister's Student Council, known as DOVES (Department of Student Voices in Education and Schools), involves 27 advocates from each of the nine educational directorates in NSW including Connected Communities. Three students from each directorate are elected to the council.

These advocates are supported within their directorate by a DOVES champion – a teacher who helps with logistical arrangements and leadership training for DOVES members.

DOVES Council meetings are held at least twice a term where students feel safe to openly discuss issues to be raised with the Minister and further contribute to positive change and outcomes to make NSW the best education system in the country.

As required by the Minister, the DOVES may be asked for input into policy and current issues throughout the year that directly affects students and their educational experience.

DOVES forums are also held at a regional/local level to ensure wider student consultation on matters that are current and important to the future of education and/or relevant to groups of students within schools.

The Minister’s Student Council has ongoing support from the NSW Department of Education.   

How do I get involved?

Applications to join the DOVES Council will open annually in Term 4.

Students are appointed to the DOVES for a two-year period, so the number of positions available each year may vary.

Students who are unsuccessful in being appointed to the DOVES council, will have the opportunity to participate in the regional-level DOVES forums.

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