Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird has formed a company limited by guarantee to take over the running of parish schools, the Ballarat Diocese has announced.
The new model for school governance will provide consistency and professionalism of governance for parish schools and will relieve parish priests of the administrative burdens associated with employment of school staff and operation of schools.
Bishop Bird said he had established the company limited by guarantee, to be known as the Diocese of Ballarat Catholic Education Limited (DOBCEL).
A company limited by guarantee is a common company structure used for not-for-profit and charitable organisations in Australia that reinvest any surplus towards the organisation's purposes
Bishop Bird said he had "appointed a board of directors to govern those parish schools where no priest is available for active governance and those parish schools where the parish priest elects (on behalf of the parish) to transfer responsibility for governance to the company.
“The board of the company will report directly to me as the bishop of the diocese and as the member of the company. Day-to-day management of the schools governed by the company will be delegated to the Director of Catholic Education [and] principals will continue to have the appropriate delegations to lead and manage their schools and their staff.”
Audrey Brown, director of Catholic Education Ballarat Diocese, said: “The new structure of governance for parish schools will change the accountability and reporting mechanisms for schools, but should not mean a major change at the local level, where the management of staff and running of the school has been in the hands of local principals for some time.”
Tracey O’Neill, a lawyer and parent of students at St Patrick’s College Ballarat and Loreto College Ballarat, has been appointed the inaugural chair of the company.
“Parents, community and government expect that school governance is undertaken by professionals. DOBCEL’s directors have the depth of experience necessary to ensure effective governance, compliance with legislative requirements and, together with the Director of Catholic Education, ensure that the children in Catholic schools are safe and able to reach their academic potential,” Ms O’Neill said.
“DOBCEL is an important step forward in the governance of parish schools in the Ballarat Diocese and I feel privileged to be the inaugural Chair of a board that has embraced diversity with respect to skills, gender and a deliberate mix of lay people, priests and religious.”
Bishop Paul Bird letter – A New Model for Governance in Catholic Education (Ballarat Diocese)