Former Labor MP Christian Zahra has been appointed the executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission, the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education announced yesterday.
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, chairman of the bishops commission, said Mr Zahra had been a major contributor to Australian society "across a range of spheres – including politics, community development and business".
"As well as spending two terms in the federal parliament, Christian has also provided leadership to a number of organisations, both in management and governance, with a focus on improving the lives of people, particularly those experiencing disadvantage. Most recently, he led the Wunan Foundation, which supports indigenous Australians through a range of programs, social enterprises and partnerships," Archbishop Costelloe said.
"Christian has always been a strong advocate on behalf of his communities and stakeholders. He will speak clearly and passionately on behalf of Catholic school students, teachers and families in this new role.
"On behalf of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education, I congratulate Christian on his appointment. We look forward to working closely with him to support and enhance the Catholic Church’s enormous contribution to school education in this country."
Speaking to the Bishops Conference yesterday, Mr Zahra said: "It’s a great honour for me to be appointed to this important role and I thank the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education for the opportunity to serve.
"Catholic schools are a critical component of the education system in Australia and for 200 years they have made a significant contribution to Australian society.
"At the heart of all Catholic schools in Australia is a unique partnership between the Church, passionate teachers and principals, engaged parents and government. I look forward to working collaboratively with all of these groups so that Catholic schools can continue to make their vital contribution to the education of children and to Australian society more generally."