SCHOOLS in Brisbane archdiocese are coming under increasing pressure as they deal with a student population drawn from 26 of Queensland’s 40 most-disadvantaged areas, according to a recent Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) submission to the Federal Government.
The submission, prepared in response to the Government’s Green Paper on homelessness “Which Way Home? A New Approach to Homelessness” , also notes that 14 students per thousand are living “out of home” in Catholic primary and secondary schools.
Brisbane archdiocese has more than 60,000 students in 133 schools.
However, Brisbane priest and long-time youth advocate Fr Wally Dethlefs, who was invited by BCE to co-ordinate the submission, said he was hopeful that the Government, when it releases its White Paper on homelessness next month, would present a range of measures to help at-risk students.
Fr Dethlefs worked alongside 34 BCE personnel – from guidance officers to teachers and pastoral workers – who volunteered to help prepare the submission.
BCE executive director David Hutton forwarded the Green Paper submission document to the Government’s homelessness task force on June 23.
Fr Dethlefs said statistics indicating that a high percentage of schools in Brisbane archdiocese fell into the disadvantaged category were contained in the 2007 report “Dropping off the edge: the distribution of disadvantage in Australia” .
Queensland areas identified in the report in the category of greatest disadvantage included Hervey Bay, Caboolture, Inala, Woodridge, Kingston, Marsden, Loganlea and Waterford West – all within Brisbane archdiocese.
Fr Dethlefs, who works with BCE as a project officer for marginalised students, said schools felt the impacts of location in economically disadvantaged areas in a number of ways.
“The most obvious impact is the loss of students whose parents are no longer able to pay school fees due to increases in living expenses,” he said.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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