End of Term Three Message
21 September 2023
Delivering the kind of quality, faith-based education our families have come to expect from Catholic schools is made possible by the dedication of Principals, teachers and support staff working across the state. I once again offer my sincerest gratitude for your work this term to support our children and young people to achieve in all aspects of their learning and development.
One of my highlights of the school year, the Spirit of the Arts Festival, took place across Term 3. This year there were 2,460 entries from 104 schools, with over 18,000 musicians, dancers and performing artists showcasing their talents throughout the festival. We also witnessed the artistic talent on display at the Angelico Art Exhibition. With 251 primary entries and 188 secondary entries to this year’s exhibition, it was an outstanding showcase of our students’ God-given talents. Congratulations to all participants and award winners including Secondary Angelico Award Recipient, Elizabeth Newton from John XXIII College and Primary Angelico Award Recipient, Emily Quinton from St Michael’s School, Bassendean. Also congratulations to the Zenith Award Recipients: Star of the Sea Primary School, Rockingham, Aquinas College, St Joseph’s Primary School, Bunbury, Mandurah Catholic College, Orana Catholic Primary School, and Trinity College. Finally, to all the category winners in the Performing Arts Festival, congratulations too! I extend my gratitude to the Catholic Arts team and the many school staff, teachers, parents, volunteers and organisers who help these events run smoothly and ensure they are a memorable experience for students taking part.
Earlier this term the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference released the 2023/2024 Social Justice Statement entitled ‘Listen, Learn, Love’. The Statement is a timely call for a new kind of engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and is affirming of the Referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament in October. If you are interested in learning about a Catholic perspective on the Voice, I encourage you to watch this video, prayerfully reflect on your vote, and participate in discussion about the referendum with wisdom, respect, and discernment.
Catholic Education WA continues to take strong steps not just to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples but to embrace the culture, language, knowledge and stories of Aboriginal people in our communities of faith and learning, acknowledging the wisdom this brings to our schools and offices. I was privileged this term to launch Catholic Education WA’s new Aboriginal Employment Strategy. In doing so, I reflected on the growing number of staff and students of Aboriginal heritage who see Catholic education as an employer and educator of choice and how important it is for us to continue to put effort into the partnership between the Church and indigenous Australians.
As is tradition, this term school and office leaders from around WA have gathered for our Leaders’ Forum Roadshows held at nine Catholic schools around WA, as well as the University of Notre Dame Broome campus. This year leaders considered a range of topics including a focus on the faith needs of CEWA staff with discussions on the recent faith survey, parish and school engagement, workforce planning and how we maintain accessible and affordable schools. I thank everyone involved in the planning of these significant events as well as those leaders who attended the Forums.
Following Term 3 school holidays, as many Year 12 students across the State prepare for final exams and assessments, it is important that we acknowledge our graduands for the contributions they have made to the life of their school communities. I wish them well as they approach their conclusion of Year 12 and the next phase in their young lives. I also thank staff, parents and caregivers who have enabled our young people to flourish.
Next term we will be celebrating the Quality Catholic Education (QCE) Awards. This is an annual celebration of the outstanding innovation and initiative of our schools. With 98 nominations this year, projects have ranged from community kitchens to podcasts to a student-run disabilities awareness week. The number and breadth of nominations is a testament to the wonderful work being done in our schools and I congratulate all involved. The winners will be announced in October at the CEWA Staff Breakfast. Also, at this gathering we will celebrate and thank our colleagues who have given 30, 40 and 50 years of service to Catholic education. This is a special time to reflect on the devotion and commitment of staff to supporting the development of generations of children and young people in our schools.
Finally, I was privileged to join Catholic Education WA early career educators and office staff and thousands of young Catholics at World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon, Portugal. The gathering affirmed my belief that there are an extraordinary number of faith-filled young people across the world who are committed to nurturing their faith, celebrating being young, being on pilgrimage and committed to mission. Pope Francis, in welcoming the young to WYD 2023 chose the theme from Luke 1:39 ‘Mary arose and went with haste’ and encouraged young people to “Shine, listen and to be unafraid”.
I wish you a safe and restful break with your family, friends and loved ones.
Dr Debra Sayce