FUNDING uncertainty in Catholic schools is a major concern for the newest member of the national peak body overseeing government and Church relations for Australian Catholic education.
Carmel Nash, who is the executive director for the Federation of Parents and Friends Queensland, was appointed to the National Catholic Education Commission on October 25.
Mrs Nash replaced Ann Bliss for a four-year term as a parent representative for the commission.
“NCEC plays such a significant role at the federal level, so I have been interested in it for a while,” Mrs Nash said.
“I see it as a really good opportunity to contribute in a different way.”
As a parent who sent three children to Catholic schools and now has grand-nieces and nephews in the system, the first issue she will raise as a commission member is the right for Catholics schools to receive government funding.
She said Federal and State government negotiations to change the existing funding model for Catholic schools would hurt parents.
“If fees go up then parents are going to have to make a choice about what they do with their money,” Mrs Nash said.
“We need to ensure that it is something that’s affordable for our families.”
Mrs Nash said government funding would enable Catholic schools to continue providing holistic education and social justice programs that would build Australian communities.
“Our Catholic schools deserve funding,” she said. “We’ve fought hard to get it, we need to fight hard to keep it.”
The question of Catholic identity could also be addressed with greater co-operation between schools and parents.
“I think it’s probably how do we work better together around faith education, but around all education, and how do we better engage families,” Mrs Nash said.
“Faith education is our point of difference and how do we better engage families in that, support families, as well families supporting the school in the work they do?
“We can always do that better.”
Established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the NCEC is a peak body that liaises with the Federal Government and other national education bodies.
By Emilie Ng