Chairperson's Report

Chairperson’s Report

I am pleased to present the 2022 Annual Report of the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools (SACCS).

The Commission acknowledges that the many outstanding achievements in Catholic Education during this past year have been achieved because of the quality and commitment of staff across our schools, colleges and centres. 

On behalf of the Commission, I extend our appreciation for the spiritual and pastoral leadership of Archbishop Patrick O’Regan DD, Archbishop of Adelaide and Bishop Karol Kulczycki SDS, Bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie. I wish also to acknowledge the outstanding educational leadership of the Director of Catholic Education SA, Dr Neil McGoran, and the Director of Catholic Education for the Pirie Diocese, Mrs Nichii Mardon.

The launch of Towards 2027: Expanding Horizons and Deepening Practices – Strategy for Catholic Education South Australia was held at a major event in February 2022. The strategy strengthens our capacity to shape thriving people, capable learners and leaders for the world God desires, and contribute to a more socially just, equitable and hope-filled future.  It is a bold Strategy­, grounded in our Mission, Vision, Values and Purpose with 7 Commitments and 21 Outcomes to shape our actions over the next 5 years.  This strategy will be reviewed on a regular cycle to ensure we are appropriately demonstrating agility to make necessary adjustments in response to changing circumstances.

We expect 2022 to 2027 to be years of further significant growth and expansion for Catholic Education SA.

In 2022 Catholic Education achieved a major increase in enrolments and reached the milestone of 50,000 students for the first time. Our plan is to increase numbers to 54,000 by the start of the 2027 year. 

As Chair of the Commission, I presented submissions and negotiated with the State and Federal governments in our efforts to achieve fairness and equity in the level of funding provided to Catholic Education in South Australia. We discussed a wide range of issues, including maintaining recurrent funding at 22% and other recurrent and capital funding commitments.

Representations also focused on preschool education, fair access to Rural and Regional buses, Year 7 Transition Funding and Vocational Education and Technical Colleges.

The Commission’s Making Catholic Education More Affordable Initiative continued to be a priority and resulted in no increases to school fees in 2022.  Reception students joining a mid-year intake at a Diocesan school received free tuition for Terms 3 and 4 which is another initiative to reduce the financial burden on families. School buses were purchased for some Rural and Remote areas and a subsidy provided to families to help cover the costs. We appreciated the increase in funding provided by the State Government from $1m to $1.5m per year.

During 2022 the Commission approved the Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy and in November the Students with Disability Strategy was approved. A Disability Strategy Steering Committee will provide a whole-of-system oversight of the governance, management, and delivery of the Students with Disability Strategy.

The commitment to this Inclusive Education Strategy is integral to our Catholic Mission. The Strategy outlines the initiatives and activities that the system of Catholic schools and offices in South Australia are to undertake to build on their existing strengths and to improve the learning, wellbeing and inclusion of all students with disability.

The inaugural Catholic Education Awards took place in May and recognised the outstanding contributions of staff, volunteers, and programs. Special awards for Leadership / Lifelong Contributions were made to Ms Monica Conway, formerly Assistant Director, Catholic Identity; Dr Paul Rijken, former Principal of Cardijn College and Ms Kylie Johnson, Director of Learning at St Barbara’s Parish School, Roxby Downs.

The Commission continued to consult widely over the year with a meeting of Governors & Trustees of separately governed schools in May; a Catholic School Board Chairs Forum in September, and a Priests & Deacons Forum in October, with plans for a Parents & Carers Forum in March 2023.

Capital projects that reached practical completion and projects that commenced or were under construction amounted to over $287m in 2022.

The Commission approved over $112m for new major works and purchased properties to the value of $5.5m.

New schools or campuses were established at St Francis of Assisi College, Renmark; Compass Catholic Community, Davoren Park and Western Technical College, Rosewater.  Nazareth Catholic College Senior Campus for 800 year 11 and 12 students is being constructed at Kidman Park and is due for completion by mid-2023.  Future schools are under consideration for places such as Riverlea, Kidman Park and South West Adelaide.

There were a significant number of Blessings and Opening events in 2022 including St Francis of Assisi College in Renmark, which is the first Catholic Secondary school in the Riverland.

During 2022 we celebrated the extension from R-6 to R-9 and the provision of new school facilities at: St Mary Mackillop School, Wallaroo; St Joseph’s School, Peterborough, St Joseph’s School, Clare and St Joseph’s, Murray Bridge.

Blessing and Opening events were held for the Mary Glowrey Centre at Saint Ignatius College, Norwood; the Tullow Centre at Kildare College in Holden Hill; St Francis Xavier’s Regional School, Wynn Vale; Emmaus Catholic School, Woodcroft; St Mark’s College, Port Pirie; St Martin’s Catholic Primary School, Greenacres and Cardijn College, Noarlunga.

We ended the year with events at Tenison Woods Catholic School, Richmond; St Paul’s College, Gilles Plains and St Therese School, Colonel Light Gardens.

During 2022, the Commission approved several new policies and procedures, including Recruitment of Staff in Catholic Schools Procedure, Engaging Contractors in Catholic Schools Procedure, Vaccine Policy and Procedure, Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy and Procedure, Languages and Cultures Education in CESA Schools Policy and Procedure, Engaging and Inducting Volunteers Procedure and Enrolment Policy and Procedures.

In closing, I extend my sincere thanks to all members of the Commission for their commitment and ongoing dedication to the achievement of quality outcomes regarding all aspects of Catholic Education.  We welcomed Christine Comas, Principal of St Martin’s Catholic Primary School, Greenacres who joined the Commission in June 2022.

The Commission is deeply appreciative of the contribution made by our four Standing Committees, Advisory Committees and the Working Parties who share ideas and provide advice and directions.

On behalf of the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools, I am pleased to submit this Annual Report and in my role as Chair of the Commission, I assert our determination to provide ongoing quality leadership, sound discernment, agility, financial and commercial acumen, and positive action to build on the many strengths of Catholic Education in South Australia into the future.

Professor Denis W Ralph
Chair, SACCS