Pam Betts – Executive Director, Brisbane Catholic Education

View video of Pam Betts – Executive Director, Brisbane Catholic Education talking at the 2019 Brisbane Archdiocesan P&F Council Parent Evening.

Listen to a podcast of Pam Betts – Executive Director, Brisbane Catholic Education talking at the 2019 Brisbane Archdiocesan P&F Council Parent Evening.


Executive Director, Brisbane Catholic Education, Pam Betts talked about the importance of the work that Brisbane Catholic Education does, at a recent Brisbane Archdiocesan P&F Council Parent Evening.

“Those of you who’ve heard me talk before, you will have heard me say, and some of the principals and other staff, we have 72 and a half thousand young people in our schools,” Ms Betts said in the video and podcast above.

“It is worth getting out of bed every day, if we can make a difference in the life of just one of those children.

“If we can make a difference in the lives of 72 and a half thousand, we can make a difference in the world, and that’s what Catholic education does.”

Ms Betts also wished those in the audience every blessing for this Easter season.

Read the transcript.

Speaker 1: I would like to introduce to you a lady that you should all know, with those beautiful jackets, at least, and that lovely smile, Ms. Pam Betts.

Pam Betts: Thanks very much, Kaylene. I’ve got an ‘O’ birthday this year, I have to wear glasses now, all the time. It’s very sad, but I’m … if I talk about it in crowds like this, it helps me to get used to the fact that I’ve got an ‘O’ birthday coming up this year. Then when I say that at pupil-free days, at the beginning of the year I did a lot of them, I got lots of sympathy. They’d come up to me and they’d say … and people whisper, “I’ve got an ‘O’ birthday too, Pam.” But I’d go, “It’s okay, I can say it out loud now, because I’ve actually said it on a microphone, so it’s quite good.”

But it’s great to be here. Geoff, look, we’ll humour him. Where’s the other principals and staff? You have got the best school in the Archdiocese. Are you feeling better now? It’s all affirmed. Sorry to the other schools that are here. All of our schools … Yeah, I know. Sorry Les. A few others. All of our schools are fantastic and do a great job, and Geoff, thanks to you, and the team, and Fr Alex for hosting us this evening, it’s great to be here.

I also acknowledge Fr Paul, and all of the priests of the Archdiocese, who are so supportive of our schools, and we work in partnership, and of course Fr Michael Twigg, from Iona. Michael, thank you for your support of the schools, of the BCE schools that are around Iona, and the great jobs that the Oblates are doing at Cannon Hill. It’s great to have you on board.

And Kaylene, congratulations for bringing tonight together, and for hosting tonight, and of course, my dear friend, Carmel Nash. Carmel, you are a fabulous advocate for Catholic schools, and we wouldn’t be where we are without the great work that you have done, over many, many years, and this is an opportunity for me to say thank you.

I want to say a broader thank you, as well, to all the parents who are gathered here. Thank you for choosing Catholic education and for showing your trust and your faith in us, that we will be the best we can be for your child, for educating your child, and for allowing them to grow in their love of Jesus. We do not take that lightly. We take that very seriously, and we really do do our best. We have 141 schools in our group of Brisbane Catholic Education schools, and we educate 72 and a half thousand students every day. In Damien’s prayer he talks … What will get you out of bed in the morning? Those of you who’ve heard me talk before, you will have heard me say, and some of the principals and other staff, we have 72 and a half thousand young people in our school. It is worth getting out of bed every day if we can make a difference in the life of just one of those children. If we can make a difference in the lives of 72 and a half thousand, we can make a difference in the world, and that’s what Catholic education does.

Damien talked a lot about listening, and he brought home to us the fact that our Church is not doing really well at the moment. This isn’t just a time of change, the tectonic plates have moved. What gives me hope, and I think what gives others hope, the Church has actually been there before. What has caused the renewal, and the revival, and the continued life in the Church is the great work that the Church has done in healthcare, in social services, and in education. Our Catholic schools, working with our Parish priests, who are so supportive of our schools, and more broadly, the hierarchy of the Church, we can be that renewal and that revival.

The tragedy in Christchurch brought home to us how vulnerable we all are. We do a programme at Cath Ed, in our office, called Work and Welcome, and we donate money, as staff, and we employ refugees, and their story enriches our life every day. The Tuesday of … just before the Friday of the … that shocking tragedy in Christchurch, I was meeting with Hamed. Hamed is one of our refugees, who works with us. I said to him … he’s from Iran, from a place called Shiraz. Those who love red wine, you’ll never forget that place. And Mahjan, one of our other refugees, she’s also from Shiraz in Iran. I said to Hamed … He was a Christian in Iran, and he’s becoming a Catholic, and I will go to see that happen at Easter Saturday night, down at Burpengary. I said, “What was it like, Hamed? Why did you have to leave?” He said, “Well, you go to church every weekend.” I said, “Yes, I do.” He said, “When we go to church, we don’t know that we will walk out alive. Our lives are at risk, and we can’t take that for granted.”

Our young people are living in that world and seeing that on their TVs. What can we do? In Brisbane Catholic Education, we talk about giving our young people a love of learning and a heart of hope, and that’s what we want to do. We want to enable their voice, because when I went today to a conference that we sponsored, with 400 young people from our schools, and it was about torture and refugees, and one of the speakers gave a used a quote, sorry, from Martin Luther King. “The greatest tragedy is not the brutality of evil people, but the silence of the good people.” In Catholic education, we want to enable voice. We want young people to speak out, and to speak up, and in that way, they will make the world a better place, so that through their profession they can make a difference.

It’s not just about enabling voice, it’s about hearing, and it’s about listening. This morning I was at St Thomas More, where the Archbishop celebrated Mass in their new church, that they moved from someplace I’d never heard of, but it was near Dalby. The Archbishop often uses the very opening line from the Rule of Saint Benedict, “Listen, but don’t just listen. Listen, my child, listen with the ear of the heart.” And that’s what we can teach our young people, to find their voice, to listen, and to listen with mercy, compassion, and empathy. And that’s what we can do, and through quality learning, and allowing them to be the best they can be, to give them a chance at becoming the person that God created them to be, they can make a difference in the world, and they can enter the world with a love of learning, and a heart of hope.

There is no better work than that. That’s why we get out of bed every day. So, thank you for entrusting your children in our care. Thank you for your support of Catholic education, and our fabulous Catholic schools in Brisbane, and I wish you every blessing as you continue to be the best you can be for the young people who for your children, every day. I wish you every blessing for this Easter season. Thank you.