Catholic Connect Workshop May 2024: Cultivating Collaboration between Catholic Education, Social Service and Family

Catholic Social Services Victoria attended the recent Catholic Development Fund’s first Catholic Connect Workshop for 2024 alongside a number of our member organisations.

It proved to be an enlightening event, driven by a shared commitment to build up targeted supports for youth and families and broader work for justice as core to a faith filled Catholic Education. Bringing together a panel of representatives from key Victorian Catholic Education bodies Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools, Dioceses of Ballarat Catholic Education Ltd and Dioceses of Sale Catholic Education Ltd, the workshop provided a platform for meaningful dialogue and collaboration among representatives from education, social service, health, and aged care sectors.

As we navigate the complexities of today’s rapidly changing world, the role of Catholic education in nurturing connections with youth and families is an important space in the shared work of justice that is brought about by the Gospel imperative. The workshop explored various facets of Catholic education, from traditional models to innovative approaches, aiming to adapt and evolve in response to shifting societal norms and technological advancements.

Matthew Byrne (DOBCEL) initiated discussions by highlighting the profound impact of COVID-19 on student engagement and disengagement from education. Participants explored emerging trends and identified areas for adaptation within Catholic education to better meet the evolving needs of students and families. Crucially, the workshop emphasized the importance of empowering students to contribute meaningfully to their wider communities through student development initiatives. He also spoke about the importance of the family and home environment for students, and the crucial role they play in any child’s education. By supporting families and communities ‘beyond the school gates’ to thrive, children will have better education outcomes.

Dom Ryan (DOSCEL) delved into strategies to bolster Parish-School ties, recognizing the governance changes across the Catholic education sector. Participants explored tailored approaches to address the diverse needs of families within different dioceses. Furthermore, the integration of principles of social justice and Catholic social teaching into curriculum and extracurricular activities emerged as a priority, ensuring holistic development for students.

Edwin Bakker (MACS) shed light on MACS’s commitment to faith formation for students and families, underscoring its importance as they transition into adulthood. Participants discussed the pivotal role of Catholic social service organisations in enhancing the offering of Catholic education, recognizing the reciprocal benefits that collaboration can yield for students and their families.

Throughout the workshop, a key theme resonated: the importance of collaboration between social service agencies and educational institutions to address the vulnerabilities facing Catholic education students and families, as we strive to be part of the Church on the margins for the margins, in service to the world.

CDF’s workshop series continues to enable networks, drive conversations, cultivate deeper connections and foster a sense of faith, knowledge, and service within our communities.

The next Catholic Connect Workshop will be hosted at MacKillop Family Services central office on the 18th July and will investigate how our organisations can better engage their boards and create strong advocates for the business from within.

Catholic Social Services Victoria is grateful for the ongoing commitment of CDF to build up collaboration in the sector by running these workshops and our broader partnership which is a vital contribution to our shared work of building up a more just and compassionate society.

CDF invites all interested organisations to register to join the network:

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