Today, I am pleased to announce a new governance model for Jesuit schools in Australia. These changes will come into effect for Saint Aloysius’ College, and Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview in New South Wales as well as Xavier College in Victoria from mid November 2017. It is planned to introduce these changes at Saint Ignatius’ College, Adelaide in South Australia and Redfern Jarjum College in New South Wales in the first half of 2018. This will see each school adopt a contemporary governance model that is consistent with those used successfully by the majority of independent Catholic schools, as well as most independent schools in Australia.
As many of you will be aware, significant discussions have taken place over recent years about the governance of our schools. Following this consultation, and grounded in a desire to assure the future of our education mission in Australia, the decision has been made to transition each school’s current governance arrangements to an incorporated school board. Some of the key features of this transition include the following:
• The current Chairs of each school and many of the members of the school councils have generously agreed to become the inaugural Chairs and directors of the new school boards;
• The change will be largely business as usual for teachers and staff, whose contract, duties, employment conditions, and continuity of service will not change; their employment will transfer to the new incorporated entity; and
• Parents, students and families will see no change.
The new model will provide clearer governance and accountability in all areas, including education programs, financial management and employment conditions. Importantly, the Jesuit ethos and Ignatian values in education will continue to be at the core of who we are and what we do. Operationally, the new model will result in little change to what the school community experiences on a day-to-day basis.
As part of the new model, and after consultation with each of the current school Chairs, Rectors and Principals, I have also decided to establish a new entity, Jesuit Education Australia (JEA). JEA will provide oversight and strategic direction to the educational ministry within our Province. I have missioned Fr Tom Renshaw SJ to be the inaugural Chair of JEA. In addition to Tom, the other inaugural directors are Fr Bill Uren SJ, Mr Don Pasquariello and Ms Danielle Cronin. In 2018, Fr Robert Davoren SJ will also become a director of JEA. Jennie Hickey has agreed to become the Executive Officer of JEA. As an entity, JEA will assume all the current responsibilities of the Delegate for Education and this position will cease to exist as of mid November 2017. I am most grateful to Jennie for her leadership of the Province’s educational ministry as Delegate for Education since March 2016 and, before that, as Assistant to the Delegate for Education. I am also grateful for her willingness to bring her experience and expertise in Jesuit education to this new role, working closely with Tom, the other directors of JEA and our schools.
Under the new structure, the Principal and Rector will report to the new school board, and the board will report to JEA which in turn will report to the Provincial. These new structures and governing documents have been approved by the Jesuit Curia based in Rome.
These changes are an important step in assuring the highest standards of governance within our educational ministry, standards that are responsive, transparent and respectful of the principle of subsidiarity and our Jesuit tradition.
Fr Brian McCoy SJ, 26 October 2017.