It is great to be writing to you in my first month as Executive Officer for AACS and it is a privilege to be working for the best interests of the students, staff and schools in our Association.
The challenges for schools in 2019 are already becoming evident and it’s shaping up to be a big year with the details of the new school funding model being finalised, uncertainty regarding religious freedom issue and NAPLAN is now in its twelfth year.
I thank my predecessor Annette Pereira (McHugh) for her tremendous service to AACS during very challenging times in the Christian schools sector and wish her all the very best. When I meet with representatives from other groups, they continue to tell me what an excellent job she did.
I would also like to thank my colleague Erik Hofsink and staff at Emmaus Christian School (where the AACS executive office is located) for such a warm and supportive welcome.
Last week I spoke at the Covenant Christian School AGM on religious freedoms and schools. This weekend I will be heading to Tasmania on Friday to visit Launceston Christian School. I have also met with other representatives in the wider schooling sector and with those operating in the Christian human rights space.
This week was the last sitting week before the Government announces an election and goes into Caretaker mode. The Budget was announced on Tuesday night and Senate Budget Estimates commenced on Thursday.
Our understanding remains that both major parties are reticent to make religious freedom a prominent election issue. Whilst disappointing, especially in light of the fact that we have not yet seen concrete improvements to religious freedom, it remains our hope that the additional time to debate and lobby will produce the best legislation possible and unify all Australians and Christians towards positive rights to freedom of religion, thought, belief and not merely exemptions.
Regardless of the nature of debates taking place in Australia, we still have our primary duty to provide the best possible e ducation to our students and operate with a theologically-informed ethos.
I look forward to visiting more schools and you as their leaders.
Peace and blessings,
Australian Association of Christian Schools