More than a school: campaign reminds voters of contribution of Catholic education

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A national campaign has been launched to remind voters of the contribution Catholic schools make to the wider community, highlighting the fact that it is parents who make up for lower levels of government funding – around 83 per cent of what public schools receive per student.

The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) last week launched the ‘Partners in Australia’s Future’ campaign with a slew of high-end videos and statistics, pointing to the sector’s engagement with 765,000 students and hundreds of thousands of families.

Speaking to media, NCEC executive director Ross Fox reiterated his support for a needs-based funding model for the sector’s 1731 schools, noting that in the past decade Catholic schools experienced a doubling of the number of Indigenous students and students with a disability.

“One in five children in Australian schools today attends a Catholic school, and they are all rightly supported in their education by government funding, alongside a significant contribution from parents through school fees,” he said.

“Each Catholic school community is distinct and unique, but together, and in partnership with other school sectors, Catholic schools make a significant contribution to Australian society,” Mr Fox said.

“With the upcoming federal election, it is important that Catholic school parents understand that the Australian government provides significant financial support for their child’s education. Without that support, the fees parents pay will rise.”

The videos feature images of Catholic school students from around Australia, including the voices of students, parents, teachers and principals. (Catholic schools employ around 91,000 people.)

One teacher is featured saying: “Love, peace, forgiveness, equality and justice; these, I think, are what Catholic education is for me.”

Another teacher says: “Catholic schools have to be seen to be valued for what they actually offer, and parents have got a right to choose that. They pay their taxes.”

A principal sizes up the significance of faith to her school: “(It’s) about knowing how to create citizens who are going to be not only ‘civic aware’ but spiritually aware. It’s become more than a school; it’s become a faith community.”

There are 588 Catholic schools throughout NSW and 30 in the ACT, 493 in Victoria, 300 in Queensland, 163 in Western Australia, 37 in Tasmania and 17 in the Northern Territory.

On average, fees paid by parents make up 29 per cent of Catholic schools’ funding.

Most of the government funding going to Catholic schools comes from the Commonwealth, which has increased funding to Catholic education over the past two decades.

Around 83 per cent of funding for public schools comes from the State and Territory governments.