Melbourne priest slams year end Catholic Ed appointment

Feisty Melbourne priest Fr Eric Hodgens has accused the Melbourne archdiocese of failing to follow proper process in appointing a new director of Catholic education in the final days of the school year.

Fr Hodgens accused the archdiocese of "dumbing down" and failing to follow proper process by appointing a former politician as its new director of education without advertising the position, according to an Age report.

He says the Melbourne archdiocese waited until the last days of the school year to name Stephen Elder, a parliamentary secretary for education in the Kennett Liberal government, as its new director of education, breaking an assurance it would call for applications.

Mr Elder had been acting in the role since September, when his predecessor, Susan Pascoe, left amid claims she had been sidelined.

He had been assistant director of Catholic education for five years, and was previously a teacher, a director in local government and an adviser to former Federal Education Minister David Kemp.

According to Fr Hodgens, Mr Elder had been quite effective as assistant director but had a "very, very thin" background in the Catholic education system and was incapable of articulating a strong vision for its future.

"Susan Pascoe was a very highly qualified, very highly respected and very highly connected person and on none of those grounds is he a good replacement," he told The Age.

"Both the Archbishop and Stephen himself more or less gave guarantees there would be due process of advertising and a wide search for what is a very significant office. This has been deliberately not done."

According to The Age, Fr Hodgens claims that Mr Elder's appointment was a bid to bring the Catholic Education Office under the control of Archbishop Hart and the finance office.

In a statement announcing the appointment, Archbishop Hart said Mr Elder had been asked to ensure schools excelled in teaching and helped parents educate their children in the Catholic faith.

Church attacked over schools chief (The Age, 22/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Melbourne Archdiocese
Catholic Education Office, Melbourne

Melbourne Catholic Education in "cultural standoff", critic claims (CathNews, 8/11/06)
Resignation ignites controversy over Catholic Education shake-up (CathNews, 19/9/06)

22 Dec 2006