By Isaac Murphy
NEW Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry was organising her diary to visit every diocese before her role began.
Dr Perry has been involved in Queensland Catholic education for four decades, serving as a member on the QCEC, including the role of deputy chair, and guiding three Catholic institutions as principal, most recently All Hallows’ School from 1999 to 2014.
It is these experiences that she says will guide her vision in her new role – and she’s ready to embrace the opportunity to lead QCEC. She took up the role on July 27.
Dr Perry said she was aware of the demands of the job, but chose to look at them in a positive manner.
“I always like to look at things as opportunities rather than challenges,” she said.
Opportunities are aplenty as head of the QCEC. Items high on Dr Perry’s agenda include close engagement with government, parents, regional dioceses and collaboration with state-wide bodies.
Dr Perry said her number one priority was to facilitate the work of school authorities, building on the QCEC’s established legacy.
“We don’t run the schools, our role is to facilitate and support them in advocating for Catholic education,” she said.
“I’ve been fortunate to be directly involved in the work of the commission, I’ve had really close connections with people over a long period of time, and this understanding of how we operate will stand me in good stead.”
Dr Perry is excited about the chance to collaborate with Education Minister Kate Jones and having the platform to discuss government policy and initiatives first hand.
“I’ve always had a role as a principal, but it’s been one step removed, the opportunity to have direct input with those major stakeholders is very exciting,” she said.
Dr Perry said the biggest difference in her transition would be not working directly with children as she has done for the majority of her career, but she was determined to maintain the appreciation she had with students.
“I want to spend time connecting with schools because I think it’s so important we never lose sight of the fact we are here because of the young people in our schools, I’m here to represent the interests of those young people,” she said.
Dr Perry plans to build relationships with schools and students throughout the state, acknowledging she was now responsible for far more than one institution.
“This is a commission for all of Queensland, even though we’re Brisbane based I see it as a real priority to get around to all the dioceses,” she said.
By showing her presence first hand, Dr Perry hopes to convey the QCEC’s commitment to supporting every school and region equally.
Despite her vision for a bright future, Dr Perry was full of praise for the strong foundations that underpin the commission.
“We really clearly focus on following the example of Jesus, we are a faith based community, and we exist as part of the church,” she said.
“That’s really critical to what we continue to do in the face of changing family and societal dynamics.”
Dr Perry said remaining contemporary was a huge part of the commission’s responsibilities and they must stay attentive to understanding the different circumstances of families and students.