Purpose – In Australia, the public sector represents a significant component of the Australian economy and is a major employer across all states and territories. A constant stream of public sector management reforms has occurred over the last decade. These reforms include accrual accounting and budgeting, whole of government reporting, privatisation and contracting out to name a few. This would suggest that accounting graduates applying for positions at government agencies would benefit from some knowledge of these significant reforms. This paper aims to examine the perceptions of accounting academics as to barriers to public sector accounting (PSA) education in Australia and identify strategies for making the accounting curriculum more public sector inclusive. Design/methodology/approach – Two data collection methods were employed in order to attain a comprehensive picture of the state of PSA education in Australia. Telephone interviews were undertaken with accounting academics across a carefully selected range of universities. This selection ensured representation across the core accounting units to gain an indication of the extent of public sector coverage in the core accounting subjects. In-depth face-to-face interviews were then conducted at five universities across five states of Australia to probe further issues that emanated from the telephone interviews. Findings – The findings suggest that in general, there is very limited teaching of PSA in Australian universities' accounting degree programs. Of the universities studied where issues regarding the public sector are emphasised, this is mainly due to a few academics who have a research interest in the public sector and so extend this interest into their teaching and the curriculum. Research limitations/implications – There are a number of strategies identified to achieve greater coverage of PSA in the curriculum. However, the findings suggest that unless the professional accounting bodies require PSA to be included in courses as part of the accreditation process, then it will be difficult to achieve significant improvement in the nature and extent of public sector exposure. Most interviewees argued that a key factor in increasing public sector coverage would be ensuring that the textbook writers for the core accounting units included more PSA examples. Originality/value – The public sector in general, and PSA education is a neglected area of research. This study is significant as it highlights that although major public sector reforms have occurred in Australia and worldwide, this has had little impact on the accounting curriculum taught to students.