Renewed hope for Term 2 as COVID restrictions ease

10 May 2022

Dr Debra Sayce

Dear colleagues, parents and caregivers, and friends of our schools and Catholic education system,

While the easing of COVID-19 restrictions has been met with a sense of relief and excitement in our school communities this term, it has also brought into context the message of renewal that Easter presents us.

This Easter season, we have been reminded by Pope Francis of the ‘peace and hope’ that Jesus brings us through His death and resurrection. Amidst the hardship and challenges facing so many in our communities and indeed the world right now, these words carry immense meaning and relevance.

It is with renewed hope that students and staff have returned for a busy term, ready for opportunities to grow, to come together as classes and communities, and eager to resume activities that bring joy to learning.

And, in the same spirit, I am hopeful that our communications will no longer need to be centred on our response to COVID-19. Instead, as we look beyond the challenges our school communities have overcome, I am excited that we can again turn our attention to the good news in our communities.

Last week, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) announced that our very own Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB will serve as President of the ACBC, replacing Archbishop Mark Coleridge for the next two-year term.

Our heartfelt congratulations and prayers are extended to Archbishop Costelloe as he takes on this vital role, together with his other national responsibility as President of the Plenary Council.

As the work of the Plenary Council draws closer to conclusion, preparation for the second and final Assembly to be held in Sydney in July are now well advanced. The First Assembly was held last October, both online and in-person. I invite you to keep the Church and us, its’ people in your prayers as we continue to Listen to what the Spirit is Saying.

The online National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is taking place this week. The co-ordination is a significant undertaking both for our primary and secondary students, as well as for staff who invest much time to support and manage the testing. Likewise, the senior secondary examinations and assessments take place later this Term, and I wish all students success in their preparation.

The Premier’s Reading Challenge launched on Thursday, 5 May, aligns with CEWA’s mission to empower today’s students to make a positive impact in our ever-changing world. Kindergarten to Year 10 students are encouraged to read at least 12 books over a five-month period – with a digital library of 7,000 recommended books to choose from. Incentives include family holidays for the winner in each of the group categories. Students who read the most books, and those who have shown a significant improvement in their reading habits will also be rewarded. Echoing the sentiments of Minister of Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery, it is incredibly important to encourage children to engage in reading from an early age, and this challenge will provide another avenue to capture students’ imaginations and ‘instill in them a lifelong love of reading.’

With the upcoming Federal Elections on Saturday, 21 May, the National Catholic Education Commission has released a federal election report card assessing the responses from the major political parties on education priorities.

The report card assesses the Coalition, Labor and Green’s responses to the priorities of:

  • Genuine school choice through fair funding and ensuring affordable contributions from families
  • Enabling faith-based education through religious protections
  • Improving capital funding
  • Support for delivering national priorities such as quality teaching, early childhood education, mental health and wellbeing programs and Closing the gap initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Islander students

The report card shows the Liberal National Coalition and Labor continue to support genuine school choice in Australian education and are committed to families who choose a Catholic education for their children.

The annual International Day of Families on 15 May is a wonderful time to reflect on the the partnership between families and school that is recognised as a fundamental tenet of Catholic education. As we reflect on Mothers’ Day, I would also like to honour all the mothers, mother figures, and religious sisters, who all set great examples for their children and those they care for this Mother’s Day.

As we each do our part in supporting the formation and learning of our young people and strive to grow closer to God as Catholic communities this term, let us renew our commitment to bring peace and hope to others in need.

As we reflect on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine or the challenges of rebuilding and restoring communities affected by floods and disasters, our prayers for peace and hope could not be more significant. Nor could our efforts to strengthen our communities, bring peace and hope to others and grow ever more aware of the needs of those around us.

Dr Debra Sayce

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