Bishop Paul Bird

Message from Bishop Paul Bird

A New Model for Governance in Catholic Education

Following consultation with the priests and many involved in Catholic Education in the Diocese of Ballarat, I am pleased to announce a new approach to the governance of parish primary and secondary schools in our diocese.

The new model for school governance has emerged from a long-term project undertaken by a governance working party of the Ballarat Diocesan Schools Advisory Council (BDSAC). The working party, which commenced in 2012, has developed a model of school governance that will provide consistency and professionalism of governance for parish schools. It will also enable the continued pastoral ministry of priests in parish schools, without them being employers of staff. This latter point was one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In line with recommendations of the working party, I have established a company limited by guarantee, Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited (DOBCEL), and appointed a board of directors to govern those parish schools where no priest is available for active governance and those parish schools where the parish priest elects (on behalf of the parish) to transfer responsibility for governance to the company.

The board of the company will report directly to me as the bishop of the diocese and as the member of the company. The board will also develop and recommend diocesan education policy. Day to day management of the schools governed by the company will be delegated to the Director of Catholic Education. Principals will continue to have the appropriate delegations to lead and manage their schools and their staff, supported by the Director of Catholic Education.

It is important to note that whilst the new company will develop diocesan education policy and govern a specific group of schools, the current governance arrangements for the eight schools in our diocese operated by Religious Institutes and Ministerial Public Juridic Persons will not change.

In March 2019, the Ballarat Diocesan Schools Advisory Council handed over their responsibilities in regard to diocesan education policy to the board of directors of the new company. Responsibility for the first group of parish schools and for the staff of the Catholic Education Office Ballarat came into effect on 1 January 2020.

I am pleased to announce that the inaugural chair of the DOBCEL board is Ms Tracey O’Neill. Tracey is a lawyer, as well as being a parent of students at St Patrick’s College Ballarat and Loreto College Ballarat. She has been a member of the BDSAC, chair of Victorian Catholic School Parent Body, a member of Catholic School Parents Australia and a director of Loreto College Ballarat Inc. I am very grateful to Tracey and all the directors of the new company for their readiness to serve our diocesan community as the DOBCEL board. I am confident that, under their leadership, the new company will provide effective governance for the Catholic Education Office Ballarat and for those schools that are transferred to the company over coming years (read more about DOBCEL Board members here).

May God bless all those involved in these developments for Catholic Education in our diocese.

Bishop Paul Bird CSsR
Bishop of Ballarat