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Providing a voice for Catholic school parents


With two young boys attending St Thomas’ School and Pre-school, Trish Jarvis knows firsthand the important role parents play in their children’s education.

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Now with her recent appointment as executive officer of Catholic School Parents SA, she is in the unique position to provide a voice for all parents of students who attend the 101 Catholic schools across the State.

Late last year the SA Commission for Catholic Schools (SACCS) announced the formation of Catholic Schools Parents SA as the new representative body of Catholic school parents. The organisation works collaboratively with Catholic Education SA and SACCS, while maintaining its independence.

Married to Paul, a teacher at Mercedes College for the past 20 years, Trish (pictured) has been a member of the St Thomas school board for four years, serving as chair for the past two and a half years. The family are members of the Emmaus parish and attend Holy Cross Church.

Leading the parent body is somewhat of a sea change for Trish, who has worked as a lawyer specialising in migration visas. However, she believes her advocacy skills will be put to good use in the new role.

“My growing interest with Catholic education really started when I joined the school board,” she said.

“Last year I attended a forum run by Professor Denis Ralph (SACCS chair) and it highlighted how the role was much more significant than I understood. It demonstrated the change you could make in your community, within your school and the importance of that.

“I went away and put more emphasis on my role as chair and how I could use my advocacy skills. It became a real interest for me and I wanted to pursue ways I could continue that passion.”

An avid long distance runner who also loves caravanning with her family, Trish said she has already identified a number of areas to engage with Catholic school parents.

“My aim is to position Catholic School Parents SA as the representative body that can support them as parents and highlight the opportunities their children have at a Catholic school,” she said.

With the State and Federal elections both slated for early next year, Trish said the organisation would help disseminate information to parents so they are aware of each major party’s platforms. It is also a point of contact for parents who have questions relating to Catholic Education, for example in relation to capital funding and grants.

Another priority is supporting families to ensure students who attend Catholic schools in regional areas have access to school buses.

Trish has met with the Faith Formation team to discuss educative tools for parents involved in the faith formation of their children. She is also liaising with principals to ensure they have a parent representative at their school.

“We will aim to engage with parents through webinars and seminars, highlighting how they play such an important role as the first educator,” she added.

“For new parents we will have resource kits available to support them as they embark on the journey in Catholic education.

“My main role is to help parents so the Catholic education experience for their family is the best it can possibly be.”

Currently a new website is being developed and more staff are set to join the organisation. In the new year the team will move to offices opposite CESA at Thebarton.


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