Religious schools recognised in Canberra

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Christian schools across the country welcomed the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Religious Schools and Faith Communities in Canberra on Monday, 13 November. The event provided parliamentarians across all political parties the opportunity to discuss issues of importance to the fastest-growing segment of the Australian education sector.

Alistair Macpherson, Executive Director, Public Policy and Advocacy Associated Christian Schools told the gathering: “Parents should be able to choose an education for their children that reflects their beliefs and values, therefore it is vital that MPs from across the political spectrum support this fundamental freedom.”

ALP Senator Deborah O’Neill and Liberal MP Mr Julian Leeser are co-chairs of the group, which welcomed leaders of Anglican, Catholic, Christian, Islamic, Lutheran, and Jewish schooling sectors, as well as representatives from a range of faith communities.

A proud history of faith communities

Speakers at the launch spoke of the long history of faith communities involved in the provision of education in Australia, as far back as 1793 when the first Christian school was founded. The long commitment of the Catholic church establishing and maintaining parish schools around the country, and the rapid growth in recent decades of Christian schools and, more recently, Islamic schools were all recognised.

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“As a mother of five children who have benefitted from Christian schooling, I’ve seen first-hand the love, care, and commitment teachers and staff in a Christian education, an education that supports the values of our family,” said Australian Association of Christian Schools’ Executive Officer Vanessa Cheng.

Attending parliamentarians and faith leaders expressed appreciation for the group and indicated a strong desire for further opportunities to meet and explore the opportunities and challenges faith-based schools face.

“The commitment to student-focussed, sector-blind, needs-based funding by successive Australian Governments has allowed parents who could not otherwise afford a faith-based school genuine choice in education,” said Director of Public Policy, Christian Schools Australia, Mark Spencer. “This strong bi-partisan commitment must be maintained.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]