Berowra has 51 government, independent and Catholic schools teaching over 26,000 students. The teachers and staff do a remarkable job educating the children in our area. Berowra is bolstered by dedicated parents who play an active role in their children’s education. I’m very proud of all the schools in my electorate. A vibrant government, Catholic and independent school sector ensures parents retain the choice of where to send their kids to school. Commonwealth funding of non-government schools takes the pressure off the state system while providing increased competition to the education sector. This ultimately raises standards across the board.
Today I want to particularly focus on some of the Catholic schools in my area. One of the great privileges of my life was the four years I spent working at the Australian Catholic University, whose fundamental role is the preparation of teachers for Catholic schools. Catholic education is vital to the future of the Catholic Church, and the future of the Catholic Church is vital to the moral ecology of the nation. One of the strengths of the Catholic Church in Australia has been the school system, where children can have a good education, with the marriage of faith and reason in the context of the faith tradition of their parents. I’m a huge supporter of Catholic education in Australia and in my electorate. In Berowra there are four Catholic systemic schools that teach around 4½ thousand students. Catholic schools play an important role in educating children in our community.
I recently had the pleasure of attending and addressing Parents and Friends Association meetings at the two schools in my electorate that form part of that Broken Bay diocese. On Wednesday, 21 November I attended the AGM of St Agatha’s at Pennant Hills. I want to acknowledge St Agatha’s school principal, Kevin Bauer, and the newly elected P&F members, president Gemma Haggenmueller, vice-president Katrina Travers and treasurer Nidhi Pereira. I also want to acknowledge Jocelyn Hordern-Smith, who has previously served as a very good president of the P&F. I also attended the P&F AGM of St Bernard’s in Berowra on Wednesday, 14 November, and I want to acknowledge their school principal, Jeanette Fowles, and the P&F president, Melanie Lord. I also want to acknowledge secretary Sam Conyngham, treasurer Steve Fitzpatrick, pastoral care director Meagan Rice, diocese and council representative Amanda Tindale, and Tracy Parker, who always keeps St Bernard’s at the top of my mind.
Our government is delivering a record $93½ billion recurrent funding to Catholic, independent and government schools across New South Wales from 2018 to 2029. Nationally, Catholic schools will now receive a record $102.4 billion through our funding package. Funding of non-government schools grows by over 70 per cent in the package. The package is sector blind and will deliver choice and affordability for parents and students. We’ve listened to the Catholic schools, particularly in the diocese of Broken Bay. I acknowledge their director, Peter Hamill. Our package has addressed the concerns of Catholic schools.
No government in the history of the Commonwealth has invested as much in schools as our government. We’re committed to better school funding arrangements for all schools. We’re committed to improving literacy and numeracy standards that deliver better student outcomes. We’re the most trusted government to provide quality education—that’s paid for—for our children.