Ballarat’s parish school governance model to be redesigned

The Catholic Education Office is working to redefine school governance across parish primary schools in the Diocese of Ballarat, director Audrey Brown has revealed. 

“Rigorous research and planning is currently being undertaken to design a governance model for parish schools that will serve them well into the future,” she said.

This model would not be “burdensome” for current governors, freeing up priests to attend to the increasing demands of their pastoral ministry, Ms Brown said.

It comes as a new report, commissioned by the Victorian Association of Catholic Primary School Principals, called for a review of the governance at parish schools.

Unlike other states and territories, parish priests in Victoria have power to appoint principals, employ staff and sign off on the annual financial statement of parish schools, while also overseeing occupational health and safety protocols.

Ms Brown said clergy and lay people already shared the work when it came to school governance in Ballarat to ensure there were the right people and the right skills servicing the education community. 

She also said there was an openness among priests, principals, office leaders and parents. 

“Many elements of governance are already delegated to the Director of Catholic Education, so that complex matters of compliance can be monitored and supported professionally and consistently,” she said.

“The roles and expectations for principals, for priests who govern schools and for the Catholic Education Office are very clearly defined.”

Ms Brown said when a parish priest did not have the skills required or was too stretched in his ministry to pay close attention to school governance, he would then delegate the responsibilities.