Same mission, refreshed name for Catholic School Parents WA
Bishop Donald Sproxton, WA Minister for Education, the Hon Sue Ellery, CEWA Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce and CSPWA Executive Director Siobhan Allen on 4 April. Photo: Vicky Wright.
By Amanda Murthy
Representatives of parent bodies, educators and clergy for Catholic Schools across Perth have last week gathered at the offices of Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) to witness the transitioning of Parents and Friends Federation of Western Australia to their new name.
For more than 65 years, the PFFWA provided significant parental representation at all levels of education in Catholic schools across the state. They will now be known as Catholic School Parents Western Australia (CSPWA).
Special guests present for the celebrations on Thursday 4 April included Perth Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Bunbury Bishop Gerard Holohan, CEWA Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce, WA Minister for Education, the Hon Sue Ellery and CSPWA Executive Director Siobhan Allen.
For more than 65 years, the Parents and Friends Federation of Western Australia (PFFWA) provided significant parental representation at all levels of education in Catholic schools across the state. They will now be known as Catholic School Parents Western Australia. Photo: Vicky Wright.
In her speech, Mrs Allen recounted the history of PFFWA, referring to the book Struggle and Achievement which was written to commemorate the Federation’s 50th anniversary in 2014. She explained some of the issues faced by PFFWA in the early years, including the issue of State support and funding for students in Catholic schools.
“The issue was a long-standing one and was the key reason for the forming of the Federation.
“But the hard work and perseverance put in by the early volunteers was ultimately successful – We were the first Federation of non-government school parent organisations in Australia, and the first to obtain any public recurrent funding.”
The PFFWA members will carry on their efforts as CSPWA. Photo: Vicky Wright.
Mrs Allen explained the reasons behind the name change and also why it was significant to celebrate the occasion at the Mgr James Nestor Room, who was not only a former Chair of the Catholic Education Commission of WA but also a long serving Spiritual Director of the PFFWA.
“We decided to change our name was because the name Catholic School Parents WA provides us with a broader and more inclusive construct,” Mrs Allen said.
“We intentionally included the word ‘Catholic’ as a clear statement about our representation of Catholic school parents in context of the overall education system, while being able to highlight the role of parents as the main audience.
“Hopefully our name ticks off the main elements of who we represent and will provide a clear statement about who we are to anyone who sees the name.
“Sincere acknowledgement was given to the personal connection that all members of council and staff have to the name Parents and Friends Federation, and the sadness at potentially seeing that name no longer in use,” she added.
Mrs Allen added that all parents present made the deliberate choice of a Catholic Education for their children, as they want the best for them.
“We have our guide Jesus Christ, to whom we look to for support as the first educators of our children and aim along with our teachers and school leaders to give witness to His teachings.
“Above all, we seek His guidance in helping us as parents to imbue in our children a sense of social justice through understanding that every one of us is created in His image,” she concluded.
Bishop Sproxton spoke at the name change event for CSPWA at the CEWA office on 4 April. Photo: Vicky Wright.
Bishop Sproxton took the stand to express his gratitude and appreciation towards parents, who over the years have committed their time and efforts to building a relationship with the schools and parishes, while supporting all efforts for the sake of their sons and daughters.
“Our schools would not have flourished without the role of parents,” Bishop Sproxton cited.
“In many of our Catholic schools here in WA, the parents were even involved to the extent of physically building the schools.
“This was a very close and necessary relationship from back then between the school and the parent body and the religious brothers or sisters, that has been the spirit behind the work of PFFWA, and now CSPWA,” Bishop Sproxton added.
Bunbury Bishop Gerard Holohan attended the name change event for the CSPWA on 4 April. Photo: Vicky Wright.
Having been a product of the Catholic Education system, Minister Ellery recalled her mother’s active involvement in the various parent bodies of schools she attended, explaining that even back then, the parents were very involved in all aspects of planning sessions and all of the work was done on a voluntary basis.
“All of the evidence shows, that a child’s success can be measured by the extent to which their parents and their families support them,” she stated.
“All evidence also shows that successful schools have high levels of engagements by family members.
“The fact that this organisation has been around since 1954, and continues to grow and evolve is just a testament to the fact that parents continue to value the education provided to their children and continue to be actively engaged in the schools where your children go,” she added.
Dr Sayce thanked CSPWA for all the work they have done from the start. She spoke about some of the factors that draw families to choose a Catholic Education for their children.
“One of the many factors is the sense of belonging that children and their families enjoy in our school communities,” she said.
“This requires more than just a welcoming and inclusive school environment – It is vital that our parent communities embrace the values of Catholic Education, and that they partner with their schools to support their child’s learning.
“You are a peak body in which decisions are important and impactful to our 162 growing Catholic Schools here in WA,” she concluded.