Ten new Catholic schools have opened across the country over the last 12 months allowing more students to access a Catholic education than ever before.

New schools have opened in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria bringing the total number of Catholic schools in Australia to 1,759, educating over 793,700 or one in five students and employing over 104,500 staff.

The latest Census data shows Catholic education remains the major provider of education outside of government, with enrolments growing from 766,088 students in 2017 to 785,396 students last year, and 793,729 in 2022.

“As the largest provider of faith-based schooling in Australia, this growth shows the great importance Catholic school families place on choosing a school that meets the needs of their child and reflects their values and beliefs,” National Catholic Education executive director Jacinta Collins said.

“We’ve seen this growth in all faith-based non-government schools across Australia in recent years, with enrolments increasing 7.7 per cent from 2017-2022. Overall enrolments in faith-based schools increased from 1,211,242 in 2017 to 1,304,909, according to 2022 Australian Bureau of Statistics data,” Ms Collins said.

Four new Catholic schools have opened in Queensland: Newman Catholic College Smithfield (Diocese of Cairns), Holy Spirit College Fitzgibbon (Archdiocese of Brisbane), Catherine McAuley College Mackay (Diocese of Rockhampton) and Star of the Sea School Merrimac (Archdiocese of Brisbane).

This year also saw the final phase of the merger of St Patrick’s College and Mercy College in Mackay with the secondary school now situated on two campuses under the name St Patrick’s College, consolidating and strengthening the existing collaboration and partnership between both former college communities.

In the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, Mickleham and St Lawrence of Brindisi Catholic Primary School, Weir Views, opened their doors in 2022 with Mary Queen of Heaven Primary School, Greenvale opening in time for the 2023 school year.

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools Acting Executive Director, Dr Edward Simons said around 11,500 students commenced in Prep and 13,000 moved into Year 7 in Catholic secondary schools across the Archdiocese this year.

“The enrolments demonstrate the value families place on a Catholic education and the quality of education Catholic schools are delivering right across the city,” he said.

There were also two new schools in South Australia: St Francis of Assisi College, Renmark in the Diocese of Port Pirie and Compass Catholic Community Special Assistance School, Davoren Park in the Archdiocese of Adelaide. 

The Emmaus Catholic Primary School, Dayton in the Archdiocese of Perth is the newest Catholic school in Western Australia with students from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 6.

This year will also see three of Hobart’s Catholic schools welcoming senior secondary students for the first time. St Aloysius Catholic College in Huntingfield, St Virgils College in Austins Ferry, and MacKillop Catholic College in Mornington will extend secondary education to Year 11 students this year.

Principal Jon Franzin said St Virgil’s College is excited to be offering Year 11 in 2023 after more than 30 years.

“With the construction of the new senior school and the introduction of a broad range of curriculum offerings, our young men will have access to contemporary teaching and learning programs and facilities as well as co-curricular, wellbeing and leadership opportunities.”

Photo: Emmaus Catholic Primary School principal Sandro Coniglio, deputy executive director Catholic Education Western Australia Wayne Bull and students on the first day of the 2023 school year. Image courtesy of Catholic Education Western Australia.