A NEW business will take over the governance of the many Catholic schools across north-east Victoria from next year.
Currently parishes are responsible for the running of Catholic schools, but the Sandhurst Diocese is introducing the new model as a result of the Royal Commissions into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Sandhurst Diocese covers much of northern Victoria and oversees 43 primary schools including Our Lady's and St Patrick's primary schools in Wangaratta, St Joseph's in Chiltern, St Mary's in Rutherglen, St Joseph's in Beechworth, St Michael's in Tallangatta, St Francis of Assisi in Baranduda, St Augustine's in Wodonga and St Monica's in Wodonga.
The Diocese also has 12 secondary schools including FCJ in Benalla, Marian College in Myrtleford, Galen Catholic College in Wangaratta, Catholic College in Wodonga.
It also covers both Sacred Heart primary and secondary schools in Yarrawonga.
Bishop of Sandhurst Shane Mackinlay said the new governance model would affect 56 schools in the diocese.
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"Catholic Education Sandhurst will be incorporated to strengthen responsibilities for the diocesan governance and operation of Catholic schools," Bishop Mackinlay said.
"This is a fundamental change that affects 56 schools. It's big. It is setting up a diocesan company to be responsible for the 56 schools that operate in the diocese.
"Until now they have been operated by the parishes where they are located.
"They have been and will continue to be enormously part of the mission of those parishes and in every case there have been great, generous contributions and sacrifices by the parish community to keep schools operating."
The plan to establish the new school governance model has been six months in the making and will be operational by January 1, 2021.
"In terms of timing, it was prompted by the Victorian government requirement that not-for-profit entities who operate with children incorporate in one way or another by the end of year," the bishop said.
"The insight from all sorts of royal commissions is that governance has been done badly whether (it's) aged-care, financial or the church (organisations).
"This state government requirement is a response to a royal commission (that we will be) consistent with and is one we support."
Bishop Mackinlay said the rest of the year would fine-tune the set-up of the company.
"By January 1 there will be a single company - Catholic Education Sandhurst Ltd - with a board of directors that will operate the schools," he said.