Then-Senator Collins with students from Mary MacKillop College in the ACT.

Outgoing Labor Senator Jacinta Collins has been appointed Executive Director of the National Catholic Education Commission.

Senator Collins, who entered the Federal parliament in 1995, announced her intention to retire from politics this week.

She will take up her new role later this month.

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Having served 21 years as a Senator over two terms in office, her political experience – especially in roles related to education – is seen by Catholic educators as a key advantage in an era when education and its funding has become an increasingly important issue.

As the NCEC’s Director she will be advocating on behalf of Australia’s 1750 Catholic schools, their 777,000 students and an estimated 90,000 education staff.

Politically experienced

Throughout her two parliamentary terms – from 1995 to2005 and from 2008 until the present – she was a strong advocate for all sectors of education.

She has worked in early childhood and school education portfolios and other committees with broader educational oversight.

She was a key contributor to the development of the “Gonski” school funding model while in Government as Assistant Minister for School Education and, in Opposition, was heavily involved in parliamentary debate over the “Gonski 2” model passed in 2017.

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The Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishsops’ Commission for Education, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, welcomed her appointment.

“Jacinta will bring a number of skills to the role, including a deep understanding of the values that underpin Catholic education and a commitment to promoting the place of Catholic schools within Australia’s high-quality educational context,” he said on Thursday.

Bishops welcome appointment

“She is also familiar with the complexities of school funding, leadership and governance.

“On behalf of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education and my brother Bishops, I congratulate Jacinta and pledge the Bishops’ support in one of our greatest tasks: the education of young people academically, spiritually, socially, emotionally and physically.”

Archbishop Fisher also thanked Ray Collins (no relation of the Senator), for leading the NCEC for the past year, especially for his role in securing “fair funding for Catholic schools.”

Catholic Schools NSW also welcomed the appointment.

CSNSW Chief Executive Officer Dallas McInerney described Ms Collins as a highly experienced politician with a strong understanding of Catholic education’s values and objectives whose understanding of parliamentary and government processes was a key advantage.

“These skills and experiences combine to make her a strong and effective advocate for the nation’s Catholic schools, students, parents and staff.

Catholic Schools NSW represents the state’s 595 Catholic schools and their 255,000 students.

A passion for education

NCEC chairman Greg Crafter AO described Ms Collins as renowned for her strong advocacy for social justice and quality education across all sectors.

The outgoing Senator said she was looking forward to her new role as a champion for the needs of Catholic schools, which educate one in every five Australian students.

“I am passionate about education and ensuring all Australian children receive an excellent education,” she said.

“Australia’s school system is unique with its mix of government, Catholic and Independent schools and I believe that parents should have the choice about which school is best for their child.”