Members Update – Issue 5. 2024

News / Members Update – Issue 5. 2024

Members Update – Issue 5. 2024
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Members Update - Issue 5. 2024

July 4, 2024

1. Executive Director Update

Dear ACS Members,

In a recent blog post for the Converge conference in Orland next year, Dr Darren Iselin[1], asks the question, what does it mean for Christian school communities to be faithfully present in an age more defined by absence than presence and more concerned with individual self-expression than public good?

He refers to James Davison Hunter’s book “To Change the World” which provides a compelling vision of how Christians can respond by highlighting that God’s good intention for a disconnected creation is shalom, which he defines as “a vision of order and harmony, fruitfulness and abundance, wholeness, beauty, joy, and well-being.”

Such an all-encompassing vision means that we, as Christian school leaders, should seek to be faithful representatives of Christ who serve our school communities “toward the well-being of others, not just to those within the community of faith, but to all.”

I have read Hunter’s book myself and can highly recommend it to everyone.

1. To be faithfully present is to be implaced in specific locales He has called us to serve.

“To be human is to dwell within a particular place and Christian schools, as person forming communities, actively seek to curate, cultivate, and celebrate implacement. This requires that we are committed to being faithfully present within our specific contexts where God has called us to serve. Because we are divinely placed, our places for work, witness, and worship should not be perceived as merely individualised enclaves, but rather as interconnected and interdependent local communities for God’s good purpose”.

2. To be faithfully present is to embody and represent Christ in and for our school community.

“As part of God’s restorative and redemptive plan, all of those involved within Christian schooling are afforded a unique opportunity to curate deeply embodied practices within our sovereignly emplaced Christian school communities. The importance of embodying faithful presence is exemplified when the Gospel of John records that “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14 MSG). To be faithfully present is to lead with purpose, courage, sincerity, and humility”.

3. To be faithfully present is to lead with purpose, courage, sincerity, and humility.

“Christian school communities who desire to be faithfully present and live out the biblical story within their school communities need to also stand with courage and conviction regarding a different vision of education than the cultural zeitgeist of disconnection that is currently promulgated. Hunter proposes that leaders seeking to cultivate faithful presence within their vocational contexts need to recognise that it requires a “theology of engagement in and with the world around us. It is a theology of commitment, a theology of promise.’”

We can never stop asking the question about our purpose as Christian schools and colleges. To know why God has established our schools and to reflect on where he wants our leadership to leave a future legacy, is one that we can not take lightly. If we do not take this serious, we are not faithful and thus not worthy to partake in the ministry of Christian education.

Erik Hofsink
Executive Director

 

2. ACS Public Policy and Advocacy Update

Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act

In the last week of June, the Queensland Attorney-General, Yvette D’Ath introduced the Respect at Work and Other Matters Amendment Bill 2024, which is stated to be “stage 1” of the Queensland Government’s response to the Building Belonging Report.  The Bill has been referred to Committee, with a report due by 2 August. The intent is for this Bill to pass before the election, and any further reform to be pursued in the next term (if at all).

Importantly, this Bill does not make any changes to the exemptions enjoyed by faith-based schools.

Changes that are proposed include:

  • A new attribute of “sexual orientation”, replacing the attribute of “sexuality”.  This attribute focuses on a person’s orientation and attraction, rather than sexual activity;
  • Introduces new attributes of –
    • Family, carer or kinship responsibilities
    • Domestic or family violence
    • Homelessness
    • Physical appearance (which would include, for example, racial or religious tatoos)
    • Expunged convictions
    • Irrelevant criminal records
    • Irrelevant medical records
  • Broadening the sexual harassment provisions (harassment on the basis of sex);
  • Introducing new vilification provisions (conduct that is hateful, reviling, seriously contemptuous or seriously ridiculing) in the areas of age, gender identity, impairment, race, religion, sex, sex characteristics or sexual orientation.  Presently, these provisions only apply in the areas of race, religion, sexuality, sex characteristics or gender identity.  The test has also been clarified to now be whether a reasonable person (with the particular attribute) would consider the public act to be hateful, reviling, seriously contemptuous or seriously ridiculing.  The existing exemptions in the Act will continue to apply (i.e. the public act is done reasonably and in good faith, for academic, artistic, scientific or research purposes, or for other purposes in the public interest, including public discussion or debate).
  • Imposing a positive duty on businesses (which would include schools) to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment.  This will include a “reasonable and proportionate test”, having regard to:
    • the size, nature and circumstances of the business
    • the resources of the business, whether financial or otherwise
    • the practicability and the cost of the measure
    • the business and operational priorities
    • any other relevant matter
  • The Commission has the power to educate regarding this duty, investigate breaches of the duty, accept undertakings from a business and issue compliance notices.  Compliance notices are reviewable by the Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal (for non-work matters) or the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (for work matters).

The proposed Bill is a significant step backward from what was being proposed.  Whilst the Positive Duty will likely lead to additional work for schools, it is probably no different an expectation that would already exist under Accreditation Legislation and general duty of care principles, as well as the vicarious liability provisions in the Act.  Churches have also expressed concern about the extent of the vilification provisions.

The Queensland Independent Education Union has come out in criticism of the Government’s decision to not progress the removal of the exemptions for faith-based schools, and in the media release when the Bill was introduced, other Unions highlighted that they were still awaiting Stage 2 after the election.  So whilst we can expect ongoing activism in this area, we must also be thankful for the changes that have been made.

We met with the Attorney General on 2 July, during which we expressed our thanks for her decision, as well as sought a commitment to not progress Stage 2 (the removal of the exemptions for Christian schools).  We also left a letter with her, raising some other aspects of concern (a copy of which is attached).  We await her formal response.

The following day, we also met with the Shadow Attorney-General (Tim Nicholls), and provided him with a copy of our letter, and also sought similar assurances.

We will continue to update you of developments regarding this.

Faith in our Future Events and the Positive Rights Campaign

The Faith in Our Future events have now wrapped up, and were a significant success.  The final event was in Adelaide, and ACS was even able to garner significant media attention in the Adelaide Advertiser.  Follow this link for a short video summarising the campaign (https://youtu.be/soZWaXLL3OE), and other videos from the various events.

Coming out of our Faith in our Future events, in conjunction with AACS and CSA, we have shifted our language with government and media to seeking a “positive right” to employ on the basis of religious belief, rather then being obliged to come within narrow exemptions.  That attached Media Release discusses this “positive right”, which you may find helpful in your discussions with local political representatives.

One of our main supporters throughout the events was Senator Sarah Henderson, who will be joining us at the Leadership Summary.  We may have a clearer picture by then what steps the Commonwealth Government is proposing in light of the ALRC Report and the Religious Discrimination Bill.

Alistair Macpherson
Executive Director, Public Policy & Advocacy

 

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. To view the full program go to the Leadership Summit Page!

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 erik@christianschools.org.au

ACS Workplace Relations Conference | Friday 23rd August
This conference will feature speakers such as Fran Keyes, lawyer at Vocare Law on the topic of Christian-focused mediation as a means for resolving workplace conflict; Retired Barrister, Frank Lippett will deliver some insights and key ‘how to’  on workplace investigations; Peter Ruffini, Employee Relations Deputy Director of ISQ will be giving an update Industrial Trends in the Queensland School Sector and Chris Mills, Director of Neumann & Turnour Lawyers, will talk about ‘The Essential Alignment between People, Policies and Practices’. Register Today!

ACS School Counsellors and Pastoral Care Conference | Friday 30th August
As in past years, this conference will aim to support member schools’ chaplains, youth workers, social workers, wellbeing staff etc. in pastoral care, staff/student wellbeing and a number of related areas. The Conference is being hosted at Genesis Christian College.

More information on speakers and topics will be e-mailed to you soon. For now, make sure you have booked your spot REGISTRATION

 

4. Strengthening Parent Engagement to Improve Student Outcomes

You will certainly know the value-add of healthy parent engagement in schools and you would equally be aware of the loss thereof when parents are transactional or ‘at a distance’. Apart from my own professional passion for the induction of parents into our school communities (with huge value-add), I found the work of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) very encouraging:

Teachers and school or centre leaders who build effective and collaborative partnerships with parents can significantly shape the education and wellbeing outcomes of their learners.

Schools and other education and care settings can support teachers in their engagement with parents by implementing procedures and guidelines for collaborating and communicating effectively with parents.

Teachers and school leaders can assist parents with developing actions and attitudes that progressively become more centred on their children’s learning. In-school activities may represent the first steps towards getting parents engaged with learning.

Consistent and genuine communication with parents, particularly small moments of connection, can help to build mutually beneficial partnerships between parents and teachers.

The challenge for schools and children’s education and care settings is to improve parental engagement by prioritising ongoing, contextualised support interventions and programs that address the distinct needs of their diverse parental community.

The term ‘parent’ is used throughout this Spotlight to refer to any family member, caregiver or guardian who acts as a parent to a child, acknowledging the diverse family structures and caregiving arrangements that exist. The terms ‘parent’, ‘parental’ and ‘family’ are used interchangeably.

See: Strengthening parent engagement to improve student outcomes (aitsl.edu.au)

If you require ACS to provide you with a good Parent Induction Course, please contact me to book a visit to your school or college during which I will present the course to you and your executive team and handover the content for use in your school. You can then brand it to your school’s culture and style.

 

5. ACS in Canberra

ACS was recently represented at two events in Parliament House, Canberra. The first was an invitation to the Parliamentary Friends of Religious Schools and Faith Communities function on the 24th of June at Parliament House. This event was co-hosted by Senator Deborah O’Neill & Mr Julian Leeser MP during which discussions were held on the important role that religious schools and faith communities play in providing outreach, charity and essentials services to Australians in need.

Erik and Graham Perrett MP at the Parliamentary Friends of Religious Schools and Faith Communities event.


Erik and Senator Deb O’Neill at the Parliamentary Friends of Religious Schools and Faith Communities event.

The second event was on Wednesday the 26th of June where Erik joined Mark Spencer (CSA) and Vanessa Cheng (AACS) to deliver another 2,200 postcards for the Prime Minister. These postcards were part of the faith in our Future Townhall events held across the country in recent months. For a post-event video, please click here.

Mark Spencer (CSA), Vanessa Cheng (AACS) and Erik Hofsink (ACS) delivering FIOF postcards to the PM’s office

 

6. ACS Admin Symposium at Citipointe Christian College

We recently held a very successful ACS School Administration Symposium at Citipointe Christian College. Tim Caughey and James Thomson from Endeavour Community Relations & Development presented on the following topics:

  • Community Building Strategies
  • Church Liaison
  • New Family Induction Programs
  • Partnership With New and Existing Families
  • Major Community Events
  • Working With Volunteers
  • Alumni

Natalie Watson, People & Culture Manager at Northside Christian College lead our afternoon session on Navigating Workplace Conflict.

ACS would like to extend a warm thank you to Endeavour, Natalie for their excellent contributions and Citipointe for hosting us for the day.

 

7. ACS Member Survey

Thank you to everyone who participated in our recent engagement survey conducted by McCrindle Research. We are hoping to receive the results soon and will share the data and outcomes with you at an appropriate time and place soon.

 

8. ACS UK Study Tour 2025

To help with your planning and to register an Expression of Interest, the following draft itinerary has been developed by our team who engaged in the recent research tour.

Alpha Leadership Conference: 5th – 6th May 2025 (Optional)

United Kingdom Study Tour: 7th May – 16th May 2025

Associated Christian Schools considers Study Tours to be a vital part of our organisation, as it is reflected in our Foundational Pillars, which is to develop Leaders of Thinking in Christian education.

Rationale for study tours:

  • To incorporate a cultural immersion experience not generally available in the immediate professional context.
  • To offer an opportunity to bring to life other educational contexts about which a person may have read or heard.
  • To meet new people in new settings who do things in different ways, which can challenge current frameworks and impact future professional and personal practice.
  • To bring back to one’s own school reports of experiences, actual documents and ideas that may be helpful.
  • To provide space and time in what is otherwise a hectic and non-stop schedule, in which to reflect, renew, recharge and be reinvigorated.
  • Connect with colleagues, travel to broaden your leadership mindset, return home with fresh vision and ideas.

Draft Itinerary: UK Study Tour 2025

 

9. Other Events Recommended by ACS

1.     Converge – Orlando 2025

ORLANDO, FLORIDA • FEBRUARY 24-26, 2025

For registration, go here: https://converge.education/registration/

In 2017, eight Christian school associations from around the world gathered in Orlando, Florida, to host the first Global Christian School Leadership Summit (GCSLS). After the success of this event, two more events (2019 in San Antonio and 2022 in San Diego) were held. In 2022, the event name was changed simply to “Converge.” Now occurring once every three years, Converge is collaboratively planned and organized by a Steering Committee composed of representatives of host organizations (currently a total of 11). Host organizations are school associations, research and practice centers, think tanks, or related organizations that support the ministry of Christian education worldwide.

Whilst not one this year, ACS will join the eleven school associations as part of the hosting organisations from the next conference onwards.

2.     Seventh Annual Gold Coast Schools Law and Regulatory Conference

Thursday 15 & Friday 16 August 2024

Sofitel Gold Coast, Broadbeach or Online

Schools grapple with a myriad of legal challenges, ranging from navigating complex workplace laws to addressing issues of student discipline and safety. Balancing the educational mission with legal requirements, schools must stay abreast of ever-changing regulations, safeguard student rights, and ensure a safe and inclusive learning and working environment, all while managing potential litigation risks.

TEN The Education Network’s Seventh Annual Gold Coast Schools Law and Regulatory Conference examines these key issues and more, including workplace dispute management, responding to cyber security breaches, as well as navigating a school’s right to discriminate.

Day 1 – Thursday 15 August 2024

 Safety, People and Performance

  • Happy Campers? Child Safety Risks in Offsite Activities
  • A School’s Guide to Workplace Reforms: From Chalkboards to Checklists
  • Workplace Dispute Management in the Spotlight

Regulatory Risks and Challenges

  • A School’s Right to Discriminate: Navigating the ABCs (Autonomy, Boundaries and Controversies)
  • Testing the Boundaries: Relationship Management between a School and its Associated Organisations
  • What Needs to be in the School’s Data Breach Response Plan?

 Day 2 – Friday 16 August 2024

 Student Management and Staff Safety

  • When Doing Nothing is not an Option: School Liability for Bullying
  • Are Student Behaviour Policies Worth the Paper They Are Written On?
  • Disability Discrimination, Reasonable Adjustment and the Impact of the Royal Commission findings on Schools
  • The Tip of the Iceberg: Psychosocial Injury in the School Workforce

Exclusive Offer to ACS members

 If you register and pay by 13 July 2024 you will pay only $1661 – a saving of $275 off the full price conference registration fee of $1936.

 To access the exclusive offer to members please use the coupon code: ACSMEMBER at the checkout.  The coupon code will reduce the registration fee to $1661 and is valid to 13.7.24

Multiple Registrations

Discounts are available for multiple registrations:  The more you send, the greater the discount.  You can access the discount by contacting our Event Manager, Jenna Pickrell, to organise your registrations – email: jenna@tved.net.au or phone (03) 8601 7729.

  • 3 registrations – 5% discount for each delegate
  • If you register 4 people at the same time you are entitled to a 10% discount for each delegate
  • If you register 5 people or more people at the same time you are entitled to a 15% discount for each delegate.

One-day only? We do accept bookings for attending one day only.  To organise a partial booking, please contact Jenna (details above).

ENQUIRIES

 If you need assistance or have an enquiry, please do not hesitate to contact our Event Manager, Jenna Pickrell, on (03) 8601 7729 or email: jenna@tved.net.au

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

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