Bishops Commission for Catholic Education chair Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB this week announced the appointment of Christian Zahra as the new executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission.
Archbishop Costelloe said Mr Zahra, who served two terms in the Federal Parliament between 1998 and 2004, brings a number of important strengths to the NCEC."Across a range of spheres including politics, community development and business Christian has been a major contributor to Australian society over the past two decades," he said.
"In this new role, he will help to shape the educational opportunities of the one in five children and young people being educated in the 1,737 Catholic schools across the country."As well as spending two terms in the Federal Parliament, Christian has also provided leadership to a number of organisations, both in management and governance, with a focus on improving the lives of people, particularly those experiencing disadvantage."
Between 2015 and 2017, Mr Zahra was CEO of the Wunan Foundation, which supports Indigenous Australians through a range of programs, social enterprises and partnerships."Christian has always been a strong advocate on behalf of his communities and stakeholders. He will speak clearly and passionately on behalf of Catholic school students, teachers and families in this new role," Archbishop Costelloe said.
"On behalf of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education, I congratulate Christian on his appointment. We look forward to working closely with him to support and enhance the Catholic Church's enormous contribution to school education in this country."Mr Zahra said it is an "honour" to be appointed as executive director of the NCEC and he thanked the bishops for the "opportunity to serve".
"Catholic schools are a critical component of the education system in Australia and for 200 years they have made a significant contribution to Australian society," he said."At the heart of all Catholic schools in Australia is a unique partnership between the Church, passionate teachers and principals, engaged parents and government. I look forward to working collaboratively with all of these groups so that Catholic schools can continue to make their vital contribution to the education of children and to Australian society more generally."
Mr Zahra will start at the NCEC next month.Archbishop Costelloe said acting executive director Danielle Cronin has provided strong leadership for the NCEC over the past several months during a period of intense advocacy around education policy and school funding.
"Danielle has done an outstanding job, allowing the work of the NCEC to continue seamlessly and ensuring that the aspirations and concerns of Catholic education were heard in Canberra and across the country. We are all greatly indebted to her for her untiring commitment at a time of particular challenge for Catholic education in this country."