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Representing Parent Perspective in Catholic Education
 
Current and Past Council members tell us way they became involved in the Victorian Catholic Schools Parent Body (VCSPB).
  
 
Tracey O'Neill - Diocese of Ballarat
 
I was educated in the Catholic School system in the United Kingdom and I really wanted my children to have the benefit of a Catholic education here in Australia. In the UK, the Catholic system is very much part of the State school system and there is parity of funding. I was surprised to find that this was not the case in Australia and that sparked my interest in becoming more involved in ensuring that a Catholic education is available to everyone.
 
I first became involved in our parish school advisory council and really enjoyed working with people with all different backgrounds and equally diverse views to make our school the best that it could be. When I saw that VCSPB was looking for new members, I thought this would be a great opportunity to work at State level to ensure that a Catholic education remained accessible to all and retained its Catholic identity and values. I have been a Council Member since November 2011 and in that time, I have worked with some amazing people, who have given me the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective whilst working towards a common goal. It has been an inspiring and challenging experience so far and I am sure that this will continue in the future.
 
Volunteering is a great thing to do, but it is so much more fulfilling when you are surrounded by passionate people that share you passion so that together you can achieve your goal.
 
 
Lisa Hughes - Archdiocese of Melbourne
 
Today I received my ticket to attend my eldest daughter’s University Graduation ceremony. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was sitting in her primary school library attending an information night for prospective parents, how time flies when you are busy rearing a family!

When I reflect over these years not only do I see the massive growth and development that has occurred within my daughter but I am also aware of the growth that has occurred within myself. This personal and professional growth has taken place as a result of my involvement in my children’s schooling. From that first information session I was encouraged to become a part of the community by volunteering and helping out where possible. I followed this advice and have learnt so many new skills, met many new and wonderful people, developed in areas that have helped me in my professional life and I have grown as a person.

My initial involvements centred around working groups and classroom activities, using skills I already possessed and focussing on the children which were most enjoyable. Years later I was approached to join a college board, an enriching experience that took me out of my comfort zone, broadened my understanding of education and taught me about governance. It was from here that I became interested in expanding my knowledge and commitment to Catholic education and became involved with the VCSPB.

I have been a Council member of the VCSPB since August 2010 and in that time I have developed a passion for Catholic identity and parental engagement. The VCSPB has provided me with many professional development opportunities to broaden my knowledge in these and other relevant areas in education through keeping me up to date on educational issues through regular email updates, web links and opportunities to attend regional and national conferences. I have attended forums and listened to internationally acclaimed speakers through my involvement with the VCSPB and this has greatly added to my knowledge base and expanded my world view.

Another aspect of being a member of the VCSPB that I particularly enjoy is meeting and getting to know people from rural Victoria. It has been a delight to be a part of a body that represents the entire state and I am constantly reminding myself to expand my view past metropolitan Melbourne! It has been a joy to work with people from different professional backgrounds; it provides an interesting skill mix and point of view. Two things unite us: a commitment to Catholic education and the drive to advocate for parents. If this rings true for you… why don’t you come and join us?
 
 
Rachel Saliba - Archdiocese of Melbourne
 
When my first child began school over 7 years ago, my life changed dramatically. I never realised how different the whole school experience would be for both myself as a parent and for my child. I felt a sense of disconnect with my child when she began school. Suddenly I was feeling out of the loop and not really a part of her world anymore. As her first educator I had spent time interacting and having conversations with her, answering her many inquisitive questions and enjoying her growth. Then all of that changed. I felt I needed to be involved so I took the opportunity to help in the classroom and made sure I got to know her teachers. I wanted to continue to be there for her and support her when she needed my guidance. I felt that I hadn’t received that support throughout my own schooling and I felt there was a need for change. 
 
The more involved I became, the more interested I was to learn more about how to support my child at home and be more engaged with the community of the school and understand the benefits for all children. Together with the teachers and other parents at our school we have made many changes to the school culture to achieve a partnership approach to supporting children with their learning, both in academic and social and emotional wellbeing. The sense of community and warm welcome when I walk through the school from teachers, parents and from the children is one that I cherish as my children go through their primary and into secondary years at school.
 
Through my involvement as a parent at the school, I was approached by our Principal to be a consultant for the school and to develop a Parent Action Team to build positive school community and encourage parents to engage further with teachers and with their children’s learning. Over the past four years I have developed a passion for changing how all people relate in schools to enable further engagement and understanding of the importance of maintaining the connection between parents and their children throughout their education.
 
I was invited to join the Victorian Catholic Schools Parent Body and see it as further opportunity to make a difference in education and to advocate for parents in Catholic Schools in Melbourne. In my time as a member of the VCSPB I have had the opportunity to attend parent information sessions and have been invited to present on parent engagement. I’m looking forward to many more opportunities to meet with parents and educators and to work together to raise issues of concern in education and make a difference for our children and their future.
 
 
Morgan Murphy - Diocese of Sandhurst (Bendigo)
 
As a father of 3, my wife and I have made it a priority to be involved in our children's education, and over the past 6 years I have been involved on the School Board at our children's catholic primary school, including 3 years as Chairperson. It has been a great experience to be involved with the school and I have learnt  about the Catholic Education System.  This involvement has also led to being invited to be the Sandhurst Parent Representative on The Victorian Catholic Schools Parent Body (VCSPB) Council, as well as being one of four parent leaders on the Sandhurst Schools Education Board (SSEB).
 
Personally I have a strong belief in parent engagement and the important role that parents play in the education of their children, and as such the parent voice is very important within Catholic Education.  I am fortunate that through my membership of the SSEB I am able to be the conduit for bringing parent issues to the VCSPB, but also to report back to the SSEB, but most importantly is to have a voice for parents at a state level.
 
Nicole Wiseman - Diocese of Ballarat
 

Educated in Catholic schools, I have long valued the strong emphasis placed on social justice and believe this has influenced many decisions in my life.

However, it was not until I spent time living and working in East Timor that I truly appreciated the fantastic work being undertaken by Catholic organisations and religious orders to ensure even the poorest and most vulnerable children have access to a good education.

This time away from home also made me grateful for the education system we have in Australia. Far from taking this for granted, the continuation of a high quality, equitable education system cannot be assumed.  I believe parents, in partnership with educators, have a role to play in ensuring our schools continue to provide a high standard of teaching and learning, and support the health and wellbeing of children, regardless of background or ability. Consequently, when asked if I would represent the Ballarat Diocese on the VCSPB, I did not have to think long before saying yes. 

As a member of my children’s primary school advisory council, the last three as Chair, I have valued the opportunity to contribute to the policy direction of the school. Knowing many of the issues raised at local school level are not unique, but experienced by Catholic school communities across Victoria, I look forward to the opportunity to learn from other parents, to be a representative voice and to support the work of Catholic education. ​ 


Joining the VCSPB

If you would like to be involved in improving parent engagement in education as a member of the VCSPB Council, you are able to nominate for the Archdiocese of Melbourne by contacting the secretary of the VCSPB on 03 9267 4458 or email secretary@vcspb.catholic.edu.au.

If you would like to nominate in the Diocese of Ballarat, Sale or Sandhurst to become a member of the Victorian Catholic Schools Parent Body, nominations must go through the Director of Catholic Education of the relevant diocese

Election of parent delegates to Council take place during the VCSPB’s Annual General Meeting.
The next AGM will be held in November 2016.

To be nominated for the VCSPB Council, you will currently have children attending Catholic school in Victoria. You will have served as a member of a school board or advisory council or parent based organisation within your child's Catholic school. Members combine a passion for Catholic education, the willingness to be able to research, debate, write, present and represent key issues affecting our children in Catholic schools. As Council members we represent the views and concerns of all parents of children in Catholic schools throughout Victoria. 

The commitment to council also involves four meetings per year between February and November each school calendar year.

As a member of council you may also have the opportunity to participate in Professional Development and network with other people who are making a difference in education for all children and families in Victoria.

 

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