Welcome to Term 1 Newsletter 2021
A very warm welcome to the 2021 school year!
As I am sure is the case with all of you, here at the office of Catholic Schools Parents WA we have hit the ground running (after the short hiccup in week 1). That hiccup however was a clear reminder that we are not out of the Covid-19 woods yet. It also gave us a taste (albeit a very short one) of what those in other parts of Australia and particularly other parts of the world have been living with for the best part of a year. It served as a significant reminder of the importance in continuing to be vigilant and maintaining good Covid-19 practices and so ensure the health and safety of our children and their teachers. If you have any questions or queries in relation to Covid-19 please go to https://covid19.cewa.edu.au/covid-19-response-210207/
Here at CSPWA we have been warmed to see the many social media posts in what was supposed to be week 1, showing how schools and teachers were preparing their students, particularly the littlies, for the return to school. Teachers took the time to record videos for their FB pages so that the children would be prepared to see them wearing masks on their return to school. For those children who were starting school for the first time and possibly already feeling a little apprehensive, it served to help alleviate the additional anxiety of seeing teachers wear masks. Great job by all concerned.
Whilst still on the subject of Covid-19, CSPWA are partnering with Catholic Education WA (CEWA) to request support from our state government to help with the significant additional costs schools are facing, in order to comply with Covid-19 health and safety measures. Some of you may remember seeing in the media last year, our State government provided $43m to schools in the government sector to meet the additional cleaning costs, whilst no State assistance was forthcoming to Catholic or Independent schools. This was unfair and inequitable and needs to be urgently fixed. I urge you all to pay particular attention to the article relating to the upcoming 2021 State Election further down in this newsletter.
As if a global pandemic is not enough to cope with, the start of the school year also saw destructive bushfires in the Perth Hills. Our hearts go out to those who lost homes and livestock along with lifetimes of memories. It is heartbreaking to drive by an area ravaged by bushfire and see people’s homes flattened and destroyed. However, it is a testament to the commitment of our emergency services personnel both professional and volunteer, that no lives were lost during that horrendous week. If there is one tiny silver lining it is the ‘thank you’ signs along many hills’ roads, demonstrating the gratefulness of a community who know it could have been an awful lot worse. CSPWA adds our ‘Thank You’.
As we get through the many administrative tasks that are a feature of the first 2-3 weeks of any school year, we are starting to look forward and thinking of additional ways we can assist school parent groups to continue to add strength to their school communities. We have become aware of the subtle changes in the way P&F’s/Parent Groups are working in schools and to that end we are keen to convene several reference groups to hear what you have to say. Do we need to look at new and innovative ways of encouraging parents to be involved in their school communities? We are anticipating convening one group for primary school parents and one for secondary school parents. If you have some ideas you would like to share and are interested in participating, we would love to hear from you. Parents have played an immensely important role in Catholic schools ever since Catholic education commenced in Australia and they continue to do so. We want to ensure that we continue to assist in positive and meaningful ways. To learn more or to participate on a reference group please contact Theresa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0438 915 924.
Today of course is Shrove Tuesday which leads us into the liturgical season of Lent. Lent commences on Ash Wednesday and precedes the most important feast on the Christian calendar, that of Easter. Lent provides us with an opportunity for reflection and almsgiving and this year Pope Francis’s Lenten message includes “love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness". A very important message to share. especially with the children and young people in our lives.
The Vatican has instructed priests to distribute ashes by silently sprinkling them on people’s heads this year due to the pandemic.
And now as we move forward into another busy year, the council and staff of Catholic School Parents WA would like to wish you all well in your endeavours. Remember that we are always here with advice and assistance should you need it. Don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook so that you can keep up with our activities and in particular keep an eye out for information regarding the 2021 State Conference.
Looking forward to working in partnership over the next year.
Executive Director – CSPWA
State Election 2021
Every Child Counts
State Election 2021
Every Child Counts
As you will no doubt be aware by now, Western Australia goes to the polls on Saturday March 13.
Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) and Catholic School Parents WA (CSPWA) have launched a joint election platform, seeking a fairer funding deal from the incoming State government. (See media release further down in this newsletter)
As an apolitical organisation Catholic School Parents WA strive to provide for you, information from all major political parties as to what their policy commitments are particularly regarding education.
In the past few weeks there have been several policy commitments including:
WA Liberals - $76 million to provide mental health services in WA schools
WA Labor – $100 million additional funding for mental health services including:
o More than 100 additional psychologists in WA schools
o Expanding Alternative Learning Settings pilot program
o Funding to enable every WA government school to access chaplaincy services
o Expanding the Respectful Relationships program to prevent family and domestic violence
Nationals WA - Grants of $5,000 to regional state, Catholic and Independent schools P&F’s and P&C’s.
However, the best way to find out exactly what each party is promising, is to invite them to your school and ask them. We encourage P&F’s/ Parent Groups to continue working in partnership with your school leadership team in organising school community forums, providing opportunities for local members to come along to your school and respond to the concerns of parents. It is particularly important to ascertain which election commitments are available to Catholic schools and which are not. As parents, you have a vital role to play in this election. You are the people who will cast your vote on March 13 and it is essential you let politicians know what your concerns are and question what commitments they are willing to make. We need the voice of every school community to ensure the voice of parents is heard.
We strongly encourage you to read more about the ‘Every Child Counts’ campaign at https://www.everychildcounts.net.au The information contained within, will help to inform your conversations with your local members.
CSPWA, in partnership with Catholic Education WA, have advocated passionately for an increase in funding to address the increasing challenge of the mental health and wellbeing of our children. The Covid-19 experience has shone a light on an area which has become one of prime concern to parents. Whilst the two major parties have made commitments to address this growing epidemic, it is important to ask what percentage will be going to Catholic school students. Access to mental health and wellbeing professionals should not depend on where your child goes to school –‘ Every Child Counts’
Covid-19 is still impacting our everyday lives and looks like it will continue to do so for some time yet. It is essential that we continue good health and hygiene practices and Catholic Schools have done a wonderful job ensuring that our children have access to everything they need to keep safe and healthy and compliant with government regulations. However, this costs money and whereas the State government has been able to find $43m to ensure children and teachers in government schools are safe and healthy, Catholic schools have not received any state assistance. As taxpayers in this state we see this as unfair and inequitable. Access to state government assistance during a pandemic should not depend on where your child goes to school – ‘Every Child Counts’.
Parents who chose a Catholic education know from the outset that they will be expected to contribute to their child’s education through the payment of school fees. This is widely accepted and for those parents who want to exercise their choice in selecting an education which best meets their children’s needs, it is a price worth paying. However, it is the additional levies that parents are expected to pay, particularly building levies that are starting to be a strain on the family budget. Catholic school parents contribute more than 80% of the cost of building new schools. This is a huge burden on top of school fees and needs addressing. Access to state government support to ensure all children and young people have access to contemporary, world-class facilities, should not depend on where your child goes to school – ‘Every Child Counts’.
"The new school year is all about change. New teachers, new classes, new expectations and new routines. For many kids, it means a new school. It’s natural that these times of transitions cause excitement as well as a few nerves.
What worries kids most is, “Will I have friends?” It worries parents too. Nobody wants to imagine their child sitting alone at lunchtime feeling awkward and wishing they were at home."
Parent Group/P&F Office Bearer’s Form
It is imperative we are kept up to date with your information.
The organisation held its 2021 “Re-launch” event on 9 December 2020 at the Oxford Hotel, Leederville, attended by representatives of Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA), the Archdiocesan Safeguarding Project, and leaders in Catholic schools.
The new approach will incorporate greater flexibility in how modules are presented, an expansion of modules to meet the needs of primary-school-aged children and active recruitment of young people to train and work as presenters for Loving for Life.