These Frequently Asked Questions were last updated on 11 September 2020.
What is the Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited (DOBCEL)?
The Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited is a company limited by guarantee to manage and operate Catholic schools in the Diocese of Ballarat, including the employment of current and future staff at Catholic schools and the Catholic Education Office in the Diocese of Ballarat.
Why has Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited been formed?
Late in 2017, after several years of discussion and discernment, Bishop Paul accepted a recommendation from the Governance Working Party of the Ballarat Diocesan Schools Education Board (BDSAC) to form a company limited by guarantee and hand over the management and operation of some parish schools to the company. In addition in 2017 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended (Recommendation 16.6): Parish Priests should not be the employers of principals and teachers in Catholic schools. The Victorian Government requires all organisations providing services to children to be appropriately insured and operated under an incorporated body. This requirement is scheduled to take effect in funding agreements for Catholic schools from 1 January 2021.
What will change about the running of parish schools?
Parish schools that are part of the new structure will now be governed by a diocesan company, Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited (DOBCEL) rather than by the Parish Priest on behalf of the parish. The principal and staff will be employed by the company. Education policy in the Diocese will now be set by DOBCEL rather than by the Ballarat Diocesan Schools Education Board (BDSAC). Everything else about the school should remain essentially the same.
What will the role of the Parish Priest or Administrator be if he is not the school proprietor and employer?
The role of the Parish Priest or Administrator will be to support the principal and staff of the schools by being a continuing pastoral presence for all staff, students and families in the school as well as assisting the faith and spiritual development of members of the school community. Parish Priests and Administrators will continue to be available to celebrate Mass and other liturgies as they have always done.
Will we still have parish schools?
Since parish schools that are part of the new structure will be governed and owned by a diocesan entity, they will be diocesan schools under the control of the Bishop. Yet, in a widely socially-accepted sense, the schools will continue as a parish apostolate (activity) and operate in service of the parish community.
Will students and staff still be part of our parish?
Yes. The ongoing partnership between parish, families and schools, especially for sacramental preparation, will continue. It will be important that the parish and school continue to work closely together to ensure the pastoral and spiritual needs of all students, families and staff are met.
What happens to the money our parish has raised for the school over the years?
Many parishes have made sacrifices to build and sustain their parish school. Schools now governed by DOBCEL will continue to benefit from that contribution for many years to come, making Catholic education possible for continuing generations.
What happens to the School property when the Transfer Agreement is signed?
The land will remain the property of the Parish held in trust by the Roman Catholic Trusts Corporation (RCTC). The property will be recorded on the DOBCEL’s balance sheets as lease hold improvements and right-to-use assets.
Can ownership of the school transfer be reversed?
What about the loans and debts carried by our school?
The company, Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited (DOBCEL) will assume all liabilities and debts. Any debts will continue to be serviced from school income and loans.
Will the Parish Priest or Administrator and parish members still be able to visit the school?
Yes. The priest and parishioners will continue to be an important part of the school community and to work with the principal and staff to ensure children and families understand that they are welcome members of the parish and able to access all the services of the parish.
Our parish doesn’t have a resident priest. Who will provide pastoral ministry in the school?
We all share in our concern for the pastoral needs of the staff and families in Catholic schools. This is an important question to explore as a diocesan community.
What about the Parish Sacramental Program?
The Parish Sacramental Program will continue to be parish led and school supported.