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CaSPA presentation to Senate enquiry into Exemption for Faith Based Schools

Posted on 21 November 2018
CaSPA presentation to Senate enquiry into Exemption for Faith Based Schools

Below is the submission made on behalf of CaSPA:

Catholic Schools have been an integral part of Australian society since its earliest years

o We celebrate 200 years of Catholic Schools in Australia in just over a years time
While very grateful for government assistance in the building and running of schools in the recent 50 years - our heritage goes back to times when communities worked extremely hard to fund and build their local Catholic Schools in order to promote the values and beliefs of Catholic Communities around the country
There are now over 500 Catholic Schools with secondary enrolments of just on 360,000
The ongoing success and popularity of Catholic Schools continues to show their relevance and importance to the community
o Families across Australia want their children educated at schools that reflect their standards, values and beliefs
o This is not a spur of moment or impulse decision as families have to find the funds and capacity to support their children's education at Catholic Secondary Schools
In my time as principal I would hold annual meetings with all those seeking enrolment at the school and invite parents to complete a survey on why they were going to the trouble and expenses of seeking a Catholic Secondary education for their child
o Every year without fail the survey item that scored the highest rating was that the school supported and reflected the values of the families who attended the College
As a country of growing diversity we appreciate that not everyone may subscribe to the standards, values and beliefs of Catholic Schools
o We celebrate this diversity and are very comfortable in encouraging others to follow their own beliefs and values so long as they do not threaten the well being of others in society
o In turn we believe it is only fair that othes show similar tolerance to our community and its Catholic Schools
Our submission today is based on the premise that Catholic Schools have a long established and publicised set of standards and beliefs
o No one is compelled to either seek employment or enrolment at our schools
o We believe that it is entirely reasonable to expect that those who freely chose to become a part of our school community as employee, student or family, come on the understanding that they are accepting theese standards and beliefs
In saying this our school leaders are realistic in their understanding that not all who join our communities may privately agree with all aspects of the entire range of standards and beliefs
o Our Principals respect the individuals' privacy in these matters
o In return we simply ask those with views who may be at variance to be equally respectful of the stated policies, practices and values of the school
As a result of this approach, our Schools have in place the process whereby staff are employed under the condition that they will actively uphold the policies, values and ethos of the school.
o We believe that this is an important principle of employment that we would seek to see is upheld in any future legislation
Similarly students accept enrolment in our schools under a similar agreement whereby they accept the policies, values and ethos of the school and will not act in any way that is opposed to these principles.
o We believe it is important for our schools to be able to continue to enrol students with this undertaking by students and their families.
These areas that we seek the support of staff and students involves many aspects of school life such as uniform code, grooming, unsafe or unprofessional behaviours and the like, and hence go beyond the specific aims of the Exemption from Discrimination in the legislation under review.
We believe our Principals are in agreement with Archbishop Coleridge's recent statement:  "Catholic schools welcome staff and students from all backgrounds who are willing to accept the declared mission and values of the school community"

Tags: Government Catholic Secondary Principals Australia

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