I welcomed representatives and supporters of Catholic education from across Australia in Canberra last week for the Catholic Education Forum.
It was wonderful to have our chairs and directors from our diocesan, state and territory bodies, and Religious Institutes and Ministerial PJP School Authorities come together, along with principal and parent association representatives – the first time a gathering like this has been held.
We came together in a unified way to discuss national strategic priorities, to engage with and advocate our message and mission to government, while demonstrating a strength of purpose and commitment to mission.
It was a valuable opportunity to share practice and experiences and to speak directly to those in government who are responsible for making policy in our shared mission. The contribution Catholic education has made to Australian society over the past 200 years and continues to make, was affirmed across the political spectrum.
Some of the highlights included a very positive meeting with the Assistant Minister for Education and Assistant Minister for Regional Development, Senator Anthony Chisholm, at our Regional, Rural and Remote Director’s forum.
We were also privileged to be joined by more than 110 supporters of Catholic education at a reception at Parliament House on Wednesday evening.
Representatives from across the parliamentary sphere included the Minister for Education Jason Clare MP, the Assistant Minister for Education and Assistant Minister for Regional Development, Senator Anthony Chisholm, Shadow Minister for Education Senator Sarah Henderson and Senator Deborah O’Neill. Former education Minister Dan Tehan MP, the Department of Education secretary Tony Cook and deputy secretary Meg Brighton also attended along with the chair of the Bishops Commission for Education, the Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP.
The gathering was also an opportunity for NCEC chair Nicholas Moore to thank Minister Clare for the work the government is doing both on education reform and in raising the profile of the teaching profession.
In his address to Catholic education leaders, Nicholas stressed the importance of good governance and the need for clarity around the goals set for Catholic schools in terms of our strategic priorities of faith, excellence and access. Nicholas also stressed the importance of collaboration across our schools and dioceses, as we share and learn from the experience and knowledge of others.
Archbishop Fisher commended the forum as a way of ensuring Catholic education is closely involved in the national conversation about education and educational reform with government, to develop our education systems for the better.
We also farewelled three of our directors: Executive Director of Catholic Education in Sandhurst Paul Desmond, Director of Catholic Education for the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese, Peggy Saab, and Director of Schools in the Armidale Diocese, Chris Smyth. Together they have served education for 138 years! We congratulate and thank them for their outstanding contribution to Catholic education.
National Catholic education executive director
Image top: NCEC chair Nicholas Moore with NCEC executive director Jacinta Collins and chair of the Bishops Commission for Education, the Archbishop of Sydney Anthony OP outside Parliament House, Canberra. Gallery: Senator Deborah O’Neill, the Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP and the Minister for Education Jason Clare MP; National Catholic education executive director Jacinta Collins; the Minister for Education Jason Clare MP; the Assistant Minister for Education and Assistant Minister for Regional Development, Senator Anthony Chisholm meeting with the Regional, Rural and Remote Director’s forum; Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools executive director Dr Edward Simons, NCEC chair Nicholas Moore; the Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP; Dr Neil McGoran, Director CEWA; Dr Neil McGoran, director CESA, Dr Debra Sayce, executive director CEWA and Allan Blagaich executive director QCEC; NCEC chair Nicholas Moore and Director, Catholic Education Northern Territory, Paul Greaves; Regional, Rural and Remote Director’s forum members outside Parliament House Canberra; Catholic representatives at the Catholic Education Forum. Image bottom: National Catholic education executive director Jacinta Collins addresses the Catholic Education Forum. Photos: Giovanni Portelli.