Members Update – Issue 4. 2024

News / Members Update – Issue 4. 2024

Members Update – Issue 4. 2024
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Members Update - Issue 4. 2024

June 6, 2024

1. Executive Director Update

Dear ACS Members,

The past weeks have been one where your ACS Team was scattered over the world and country. Leighton, Lynne and Ethan did the research tour to the UK, Alistair roamed around the country for speaking engagements and townhall events and I visited schools and attended some townhall and Christian schools related events around the country.

We are all back now and look forward to our flagship event, the ACS Leadership Summit on the 22nd and 23rd of July at the Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast.

If you have not registered yet, please do so as we already had to increase our accommodation capacity twice.

Needless to say, we are very excited about the program and opportunity to hear, to network and to strengthen our association around Christian education for the common good.

As you will see, Alistair has been very busy on the advocacy front – especially with the Faith in Our Future Town hall events and presenting at conferences in Melbourne and Canberra. Apart from joining three of the six FIFO events with Alistair, I also attended the conference that Alistair spoke as lawyer from his law firm Corney & Lind, now called Vocare (pronounced: vo– car-ey). This conference is part of The Education Network (TEN) and I highly recommend their Law in Education Conferences to you. Topics covered included:

  • The Tip of the Iceberg: Psychosocial Injury in the School Workforce by Ben Tallboys, Principal, Russell Kennedy Lawyers; Legal consultant to the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, Melbourne
  • A School’s Guide to Workplace Reforms: From Chalkboards to Checklists by Adam Foster, Partner, Colin Biggers & Paisley, Melbourne
  • Workplace Dispute Management in the Spotlight by Fiona Manderson, Director of Compliance and Risk, and Legal Counsel, Hillcrest Christian College, Gold Coast
  • A School’s Right to Discriminate: Navigating the ABCs (Autonomy, Boundaries and Controversies) by Alistair Macpherson, Managing Director, Vocare Lawyers, Brisbane
  • Testing the Boundaries: Relationship Management between a School and its Associated Organisations by Stephanie McLuckie, Associate, Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers, Sydney
  • What Needs to be in the School’s Data Breach Response Plan? By Cecelia Irvine-So, Practice Leader – Corporate Advisory, Moores, Vic
  • Are Student Behaviour Policies Worth the Paper They Are Written On? By Jennifer Parkes, Partner, Hicksons Lawyers, Newcastle, NSW
  • When Doing Nothing is not an Option: School Liability for Bullying by Mathisha Panagoda, Partner, Colin Biggers & Paisley, Sydney
  • Disability Discrimination, Reasonable Adjustment and the Impact of the Royal Commission findings on Schools by Annie Smeaton, Partner, Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers, Brisbane
  • Happy Campers? Child Safety Risks in Offsite Activities by David Ford, Partner, Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers, Sydney.

If you are interested, please navigate to as I was informed that the same conference will be offered on Thursday the 15th and Friday the 16th of August 2024 at the Sofitel Broadbeach.

Alistair also presented at the Christian Schools National Policy Forum in Canberra, and I chaired day two of this conference. David Smith MP, as a representative of the Federal Minister for Education Jason Clare, as well as Shadow Minister for Education, Senator Sarah Henderson, spoke to delegates at a cocktail function in Parliament House. As usual, the CSNPF was a useful and successful gathering of Christian school communities from across the country.

On behalf of ACS I would like to congratulate Parklands Christian College and Kings Christian College (all three campuses) with the official opening of their newest buildings. It was a delight to represent ACS at these events and a joy to see the schools giving glory and honour to Christ our king and thanking the Lord for his provision through grant funding and school contributions.

IMAGE: Assistant Minster for Education and Youth Justice, Corinne McMillan MP opening the King’s Christian College Buildings. With Rob Verreynne (Campus Principal – Pimpama) and Rees Davis (Executive Principal)

Finally, let me encourage you with this quote by Matt Chandler’s from his book Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church:

“God ultimately raises up leaders for one primary reason: His glory. He shows His power in our weakness. He demonstrates His wisdom in our folly. We are all like a turtle on a fence post. If you walk by a fence post and see a turtle on top of it, then you know someone came by and put it there. In the same way, God gives leadership according to His good pleasure.”

Erik Hofsink
Executive Director


2. ACS Public Policy and Advocacy Update

Most of my energy over the last couple of months has been focused on our Town Hall events across Australia.  These have been an exciting and valuable opportunity to share the Good News of Christian Schools, and provide staff, parents and students the opportunity to advocate for the continued protection of Christian Schools.

So far, we have had over 3000 people attend 5 Town Hall events (Brisbane had over 800, Sydney had over 700, Perth had over 450, Launceston had over 550 and Melbourne over 1200 attendees).  Next week is our final Town Hall event in Adelaide, and we are hoping for another 700 plus attendees.

IMAGE: Shadow Attorney-General, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash with Alistair Macpherson and Erik Hofsink at the Melbourne Faith in our Future event.

At each meeting, we have also collected personal postcards to the Prime Minister, calling on him to commit to his statement that Christian Schools would not go backwards.  We have so far delivered over 1500 of these signed postcards to his office in Canberra.

Last week I was also invited to attend a Charity Leaders event at Parliament House, organised by the Australian Christian Lobby.  The focus of the event was on the Productivity Commission’s inquiry and report (which has been tabled in Parliament but not yet made public).   You may recall that a key recommendation of the draft Report was to remove DGR endorsement for College Building Funds, which ACS advocated strongly against.  Pleasingly, during this event the Assistant Minister for Charities, Andrew Leigh, made it clear that the Government did not support the removal of DGR endorsement for College Building Funds.  We await the final report being published.

Also last week, I presented at the National Policy Forum for Christian Schools, discussing the foundation of a school as a religious entity, and the importance of defining what you believe.  For those interested, a copy of my slides are attached.

Finally, we are still waiting to see what will happen with the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act reform agenda.  Whilst the draft Bill was released for public comment, no legislation has come before Parliament, and there are now only 3 sitting weeks remaining until the election.  The timeline is tight for the Queensland Government to push legislation through, but not impossible (and also depending on whether the Bill is referred to Committee for further consultation).  We are meeting with the Queensland Attorney-General and Shadow Attorney-General early next month, to press our concerns regarding the draft Bill.

As always, if you have any queries, please feel free to call me.

Alistair Macpherson
Executive Director, Public Policy & Advocacy


Take Note!

During Alistair’s presentation he shared some case studies, and, with different outcomes, these cases should raise our awareness and/or consideration of the following:

  • Be aware of how the exemptions operate within your State or Territory (doctrine or belief, publication of the policy etc)
  • Registering with the sub-type of religion with the ACNC is important evidence
  • Ensure your Constitution clearly states your religious purpose
  • Ensure that your other documentation clearly reflects your Christian purpose and is consistent throughout (website, policies, employment contracts/EBA, enrolment contracts, strategic plans etc)
  • Ensure that your practice is similarly consistent (it is not merely an aspiration or ideal, but is your genuine practice) – your institutional character must reflect your values
  • Consider whether your position statements are doctrines or beliefs, and make this clear (again, know how the exemptions operate in your State or Territory?)
  • Don’t be afraid to make your statements publicly available – depending on jurisdiction this is required, and it makes it clear why parents are choosing your school
  • But carefully review your statements from a third-party perspective – the risk of vilification (State/Territory discrimination legislation) or breaching duty of care obligations towards students, may bring the attention of regulatory bodies

Further to this presentation, Alistair was also interviewed by Vision Radio on the 3rd of June. To listen to this interview, please click on:


3. Calendar & Events

ACS Leadership Summit 2024 | 22 – 23 July
The ACS Leadership Summit on the 22nd to 23 July is fast approaching! Don’t miss out on hearing renowned international speakers and two days of fellowship and networking. There is limited discounted accommodation left! We are fast approaching our maximum capacity, REGISTER before you miss out! To view the full program and register go to the Leadership Summit Page!
Registration CLOSES Thursday 20th June!

ACS Administration Symposium | Friday 28th June
The School Administration Symposium is designed Executive Assistants and college administration staff. Staff involved with community engagement and school culture may also find the event insighful. Register Today!
Registration Closes Friday 21st June!

AI Innovations in Education Day Seminar | Friday 2nd August
This event will be hosted at Redlands College. There are limited spaces available. To register, please email Erik Hofsink at

ACS Workplace Relations Conference | Friday 23rd August
The Workplace Relations Conference has been scheduled for Friday 23 August, which is a change from the originally publiched date. The program and event location (within brisbane) will be released soon. Register Today!


4. Members Survey

Thank you to all the schools and colleges for forwarding the names and e-mails of your deputies and/or senior staff. If you have not done this yet, please let me know by tomorrow (Friday the 7th of June please). We will also send the survey to the Board Chairs and Board Members that we have on record.

Tomorrow you will receive an invitation to take the survey and it will be open for only two weeks. I am eager to hear from you so that we can ensure ACS continues to serve and support your schools into the future. As you are aware, we have engaged McCrindle Research, an independent research company whom I know many of you are familiar with, to conduct this survey.

The survey will ask you to identify your school, this is so McCrindle can track the schools that have completed the survey. Please note your individual responses will remain anonymous to ACS and only deidentified results will be shared with ACS.

We look forward to being in touch with you soon, and please let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.


5. UK Study Tour 2025

As mentioned above, our delegation who did the research tour has returned from the UK and Lynne has kindly provided this update for you:

Update from Lynne Doneley ACS International Ambassador

From 16th May until 28th May 2024, Leighton and Ethan joined me to conduct a Research Tour in the UK, visiting schools and meeting with thought leaders. The purpose of this trip was to reconnect with Principals and staff at schools we have visited during the last ACS Study Tour in 2017, prior to COVID, and to inform the planning of the 2025 Study Tour to the UK. Leighton, Ethan and myself visited a total of 9 schools. These schools were:

  1. Emmanuel College – Consett Road Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE11 0AN
  2. Bede College – Sixth Avenue, Blyth, Northumberland NE24 2SY
  3. Berkhamsted School Castle Campus, Castle Street Berkhamsted, HP4 2BB
  4. Cranleigh School, Horseshoe Lane, Cranleigh, Surrey, U6 8QQ
  5. St Edward’s School (Teddies) Woodstock Road Oxford OX2 7NN
  6. Monkton Combe School  Monkton Combe Bath. BA2 7HG
  7. Worth Abbey School Paddockhurst Rd Crawley RH10
  8. King Edward’s Whitley School Surrey, Wormley, Godalming GU
  9. Holy Trinity School Addison Road Guildford Surrey, GU1

At every school we visited we were warmly greeted and hosted. The schools also confirmed they would be delighted to host a larger group of ACS school leaders in 2025.

We also met with Jonathan and Julie Winch and Richard and Debbie Backhouse, both of whom have been keynote speakers at past ACS Leadership Summits. Jonathon is Executive Director, Westminster Seminary and Richard is Principal at Berkhamsted School. Other thought leaders we met with were Dr Nick Needham author of the acclaimed history series, ‘2,000 Years of Christ’s Power’, Penny Roberts, Diocesan Director of Education, and Dave Benson, Director of the Centre for Culture & Discipleship at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. Dave will be our keynote speaker at the 2025 ACS Leadership Summit. His talks will be centred around the following focus:

Adaptive Leadership in Complex Times: Transforming Education
In leading a Christian school today, the only constant would seem to be change. While we worship the unchanging person, serving Christ’s unshakable kingdom, everything else – from finances and student numbers, through governance models and curriculum design, to pedagogical best practice and codes of conduct – is in flux, shifting beneath our feet. This session, then, makes space for facilitated reflection. Using the Cynefin framework, we will process our chaotic educational context through self-generated case studies exploring how what was once predictable became increasingly pluralistic and confusingly complex. Through a fusion of Scriptural engagement, the spiritual practice of lament, and dialogue, we will discern wisdom for adaptive leadership that transforms Christian education, moving forward in a faithful and fruitful way.

If you are not familiar with Dave’s work, the Dropbox folder below will take you to a range of Dave’s education talks/papers: DROPBOX and the sub folder therein.

We will keep you updated on a regular basis as the planning for the 2025 ACS UK Study Tour and 2025 ACS Leadership Summit progresses.


Download the calendar and save key dates so you don’t miss out!

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