18 November 2021

From the Principal

Article by Mr Michael Exton

From the Principal

Dear Saint Ignatius College Geelong community members,

Congratulations and thank you to the 2022 PFA officeholders

At the recent AGM, the current President, Leanne Riley and Secretary, Nicole Sadler were reappointed to the position they held in 2021. On behalf of our College community, I express my gratitude to Leanne and Nicole for their generous ongoing commitment to our College. 

The position of Treasurer was unfortunately not filled. On behalf of the PFA, I ask parents to please consider nominating for this position. You can either nominate or ask questions about this position by sending an email message to sicgpandf@ignatius.vic.edu.au

Farewell to the Class of 2021

With the further easing of restrictions looking likely according to media reports, we are looking forward to celebrating the graduation of the Class of 2021 with parents and carers and families at the Year 12 Valete Mass and Graduation to be held at the College on November 25th, 2021.

Students are expected to arrive at the College’s Multi-Purpose Centre at 4.15 pm in readiness to be issued a graduation gown. Parents and carers are to arrive shortly after that to allow adequate time for QR Check-In and double vaccination status check. COVID Marshalls will be on-site to assist with this process. In keeping with the formality of this occasion, dress for all attendees will be formal attire.

A letter with more details, including information about how to book a seat, has been sent via email to Yr 12 parents, carers and students.

Building program update

The move into the new Loyola Centre will hopefully commence in early December.

Following this move, the current administration centre will be decommissioned, dismantled and relocated to prepare for the new senior school building site. We hope to commence construction of the MacKillop Senior Centre in late term one next year.

Some other updates

The MACS annual school community surveys have just been completed. The results will inform the implementation of our school improvement plan. Thank you to all community members able to complete the online survey. Your feedback is appreciated.

We conducted an Indigenous Recognition Day on Thursday, 4 November, which involved the students in various awareness-raising activities. Well done to our student social justice group members who organised this day.

Last week, the Year 9 “Journey” class students participated in a very successful day pilgrimage that involved walking along the rail trail to Queenscliff with short liturgies conducted along the way. Well done to all involved.

I am delighted to inform you that the College production of “Wicked" that we had to postpone from August, will go ahead, subject to government restrictions at the time, on December 9 & 10 at 7:30 pm at Costa Hall, Deakin Waterfront, Geelong. Visit the College Facebook page for the link to purchase tickets. This show will be a great way to finish the school year.

Equal opportunity laws – standing up for religious freedom

The Acting Executive Director of Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS), Dr Paul Sharkey, has asked principals to share Archbishop Peter’s letter to Victorian members of parliament and the Standing up for religious freedom factsheet with their school staff and families.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli’s letter and the factsheet outline the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s position on the changes to the Equal Opportunity Act. The Standing up for religious freedom factsheet also includes actions that members of Catholic communities can take to stand up for our religious freedom.

Dr Sharkey further explains the following about MACS’ position in regards to this issue.

In coming weeks, the Victorian Parliament will vote on legislation that will affect religious freedom and the independence, integrity and ethos of Catholic agencies and organisations, including schools.

Under current laws, Catholic organisations – along with other Christian, Jewish, Islamic and all faith-based educational establishments – have the right to choose to hire employees who are dedicated to upholding their religious identity.

The proposed Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill 2021 will seriously diminish the rights of religious organisations to manage their activities according to their faith and conscience.

The Bill puts forward measures that replace the current, well-working approach, which will mean Catholic organisations have to prove that staffing positions have an ‘inherent’ religious requirement if challenged.

The introduction of an inherent religious requirement test is an intrusion by the state government into how and why a religious organisation conducts itself.

As an example, the changes will mean that Catholic schools could be forced to hire individuals actively at odds with the teachings that underpin Catholic education and the unique ethos of Catholic schools, or face legal penalties. This poses a clear threat to the integrity of our schools by severely undermining the faith and values-based education they currently provide.

In addition to weakening the unique values and character of Catholic schools that make them so attractive to parents and students alike, the Bill also represents an attack on freedom of religion in general.

Catholics run service organisations ranging from schools to aged care and hospitals, and provide social support to people in need across the community. Suddenly, the government is determined to tell them whether or not religious identity should be a factor in managing employment matters.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne is working with its agencies in asking the state government to reconsider the Bill and abandon the proposal to introduce an inherent requirement test. Catholic school communities need to play their part in this debate.

Best wishes,

Michael Exton  Principal