Brigidine fund offering relief from education costs
Low-income Victorian and South Australian families seeking a Catholic education have access to relief from the burden of school fees, following the launch of the Brigidine Association Relief Fund.
Melbourne Archdiocese's Kairos Catholic Journal reports that several senior staff members of the Catholic Education Office recently attended an official commissioning service of the Brigidine Association Relief Fund.
Catholic Education Executive Director Susan Pascoe writes in her fortnightly column that a moving liturgy entitled 'Who will roll back the stone' (Mark 16:4) heralded the launch of the relief fund, which will in time support a significant number of students in their education.
She said the Brigidine Sisters have made a significant contribution to Catholic education in Victoria for over 100 years. Currently, there are seven secondary colleges within Victoria and South Australia where the Brigidine Sisters work in partnership with lay people to further develop and consolidate their educational and pastoral endeavours. Engaging with the issues of the times, standing in solidarity with the oppressed and seeking to build more inclusive communities are central tenets of the Brigidine story.
"Like many Catholic schools, Brigidine schools have always assisted low-income families seeking a Catholic education and have provided fee relief and other practical support wherever possible. Indeed, as a group of schools, a conscious policy exists to keep fees as low as can be. Yet, despite this, many families are discouraged from seeking enrolment because the fees and associated costs are beyond their reach. Hence, the establishment of the Relief Fund."
Within the limits of its financial resources, the fund will target needy families including refugees, migrants, families experiencing long-term unemployment or illness, Koorie students, adolescents living independently of their families, and low-income working families who do not qualify for government assistance programs. The identification of such people will take place via pro-active contact with primary schools, parishes and community organisations. Each Brigidine school will reserve a number of places should such assistance be accepted. The funds will also be accessible to existing school community members who are experiencing financial difficulty, and to students who are seeking to pursue their education in other setttings and schools.
Dr Pascoe said that it is a measure of the solidarity of the Brigidine schools that they are building truly tangible inclusive communities.
"Each school has made a commitment to donating a percentage of its internal revenue and resources to the Relief Fund, and at the same time concerted efforts are underway to generate income from public donations," she said. "Over time it is hoped that a significant number of young people will be supported in meeting the costs of textbooks, uniforms and camp/excursion levies, each and all of which can make the costs of continuing in Catholic education prohibitive."
Relief from high education costs (Kairos Catholic Journal 18-25/9/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Brigidine Sisters | Education
Strap to be banned in all Victorian schools (The Age 16/9/05)
Catholic education chief 'aghast' at OBE critics (The West Australian 15/9/05)
Massive revamp plan for schools (The Age 12/9/05)
16 Sep 2005