NCEC chairman Greg Crafter AO said Jacinta is renowned as a strong advocate for social justice and quality education across all sectors.
“Jacinta brings a wealth of experience, skills and dedication to the role,” Mr Crafter said.
“Since entering the Senate in 1995, she has held several leadership roles and has served on the frontbench in the portfolios of school education, early childhood, workplace relations, mental health and ageing.
“As the parent of three children herself and somebody with a long-standing dedication to social justice, Jacinta has always had a deep interest in early learning and the importance of providing quality school education and development opportunities for all children.
“Her parliamentary knowledge and strong commitment to the values that underpin Catholic schools make her the ideal person to lead the NCEC as it continues to advocate on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of families who entrust their children to our care every school day.”
Jacinta said she was looking forward to her new role as a champion for the needs of Catholic schools, which educate one in every five Australian students.
“I am passionate about education and ensuring all Australian children receive an excellent education,” she said.
“Australia’s school system is unique with its mix of government, Catholic and Independent schools and I believe that parents should have the choice about which school is best for their child.
“In the Parliament, I was a strong advocate for fair funding for all schools and I will continue to be a strong voice for the needs of Catholic schools, teachers and students.”
Mr Crafter thanked Ray Collins (no relation) for his stewardship of the NCEC over the past year.
“Ray came out of retirement to lead the NCEC during an eventful 2018,” Mr Crafter said.
“He had been director of Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle for nine years until retiring in December 2016 and closing out a distinguished 44-year career in education.
“Ray has displayed an integrity and dedication to his vocation as a Catholic educator, earning the respect of his colleagues and education stakeholders.
“He has been a wonderful servant of Catholic education over many decades and we thank him for answering the call one more time. He can now resume his well-deserved retirement.”
Jacinta Collins will commence as executive director on February 18.
Nationally, Catholic schools educate almost 770,000 students in 1750 schools, the vast majority of which are low-fee schools.