Focus on funding fairness, faith and the future at conference

Decrease font size
Increase font size
Print this page
Email to friend
Share to Facebook
Share to Twitter
Focus on funding fairness, faith and the future at conference

The past year had been a particularly significant one for Catholic education in Tasmania, according to the Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous.

Archbishop Julian was speaking at the Tasmanian Catholic Schools’ Parents Council (TCSPC) annual conference in Launceston in October.

About 40 people attended the conference, entitled Future Directions in Catholic Education, at St Patrick’s College, Launceston, on October 21.

Archbishop Julian highlighted:
• New funding arrangements under Gonski 2.0 that appeared at first sight to ‘seriously disadvantage’ the Catholic school system. He further commented that the outcome has been encouraging;
• Debate in Tasmania over now-abandoned plans to lower the school starting age and the provision of education to Year 12 for all students, which has prompted a review of Catholic Education in the greater Hobart area; and,
• A move to greater centralisation of the governance structures in Catholic schools and colleges against a backdrop of increasingly complex regulative and compliance demands.

Discussion on these issues had taken place as debate continued over the marriage plebiscite which also had potentially significant implications for Catholic education, Archbishop Julian said.

“If the government goes ahead and changes the definition of marriage it will have immediate effects for our Catholic schools,” he said.

“As Catholic schools we teach Catholic doctrine on matters like the meaning of marriage. If the law of the land is changed then there will be pressure for our schools to change our teachings. We cannot do this because this will threaten the integrity of our Catholic identity and mission.”
He added that Catholic schools existed because parents asked the Church to provide schools which enshrined the Catholic faith and provided sound Catholic teaching to their children.

President of the TCSPC, Brendan McManus told the conference that the past year had been busy and productive. Highlights included: early learning and literacy workshops; Dr Debbie Pushor’s parental engagement workshops; and screenings of the movie Screenagers in Hobart and Launceston with insights into empowering children to navigate the digital age.

Some concessions were won after hard lobbying over the proposed Gonski funding model that ‘did not deliver fairness to a sector that educates one third of Australian children and 16,000 in Tasmania’.

“Education and how it is funded will certainly be a big ticket item in the federal and state elections to come,” Mr McManus added.

The conference was well attended by parents, life members, council members, a representative from Catholic Schools’ Parents Australia and both state and federal politicians.

Attendees visited St Patrick’s College aquaculture centre and heard from experts on vocational education and training and associate degrees.

At the Tasmanian Catholic Schools’ Parents Conference in Launceston are (from left) Maria Cooper, Chaplain to the TCSPC Fr Peter O’Loughlin, and Angela Mitchelmore.