Paul Barrett

Paul Barrett

Teacher, St Augustine’s Parish Primary School, Currumbin Waters, Archdiocese of Brisbane

Following last summer’s bush fires in Victoria and New South Wales, Paul collaborated with his Year 2 students to harness the power of positivity through a simple act of kindness to support others.

Inspired by Brisbane Catholic Education’s (BCE) ‘Hearts Aflame’ bushfire fundraiser, the Positive pictures for bushfire victims program, encouraged students at St Augustine’s Parish Primary School to write letters of encouragement and draw colourful pictures of positivity and hope.

Paul expressed his hope for the letters like this:

“…it is hoped the messages will each make their mark in the homes of many families that we are never likely to meet.  This is, of course, something that is fundamental to what it means to be in a Catholic school community and becomes a way in which we can follow in the footsteps of Jesus.”

More than 350 letters were sent to four Catholic primary schools in areas around Canberra and Wollongong most affected by the bushfires and others to the Diocese of Sale in Eastern Victoria.

Paul created a platform for students to express their compassion and prayers, creating a personal connection and developing their spiritual growth.  His class project expanded to deliver hope to devastated communities and enriched the lives of many, by simply listening to and inspiring his students.

Madonna Lawrence

Madonna Lawrence

Teacher, St Joseph’s School, Atherton, Diocese of Cairns

As a teacher, Madonna has been a part of the St Joseph’s school community for over 10 years and a valued contributor to the community for much longer.

While her own children were young, Madonna provided relief teaching and regular sessions for parents on literacy and social & emotional learning helping to build capacity & connection with families.

After becoming a permanent member of staff, her integrity and passion shone further as a driver and co-ordinator of the social & emotional learning program and advocate for play-based learning long before it became mainstream.

Madonna is an inspiring example for social justice and playing an active role in the community. Whole classes often become members of the Mini Vinnies program she runs, contributing to the local St Vincent de Paul branch.

Demonstrating her passion for equal opportunities and embodying Catholic spirit, Madonna has taken the lead on Trauma Informed Learning (Berry Street Model) and acts as a mentor for other teachers and leadership.

Madonna is a driving force behind local community events as a tireless volunteer.

Gentle in nature and humble, Madonna remains a deeply valued and respected member of the St Joseph’s community. Her students adore her, parents and families find her ever approachable and fellow teachers are always welcomed by her for mentorship and advice.

Tony Polga

Tony Polga

School Board Chair, Burdekin Catholic High School, Ayr, Diocese of Townsville

Tony Polga has been an outstanding member of the Burdekin Catholic High School community for more than 20 years.

A former student of the school, Tony maintained his connection with the school community when his children attended. He became President of the Parents and Friends Association and is currently the Chair of the school’s Board.

He has been an integral member of school working bees, fundraising events, the annual Burdekin Show Booth and catering on behalf of the P & F at the annual Pioneer Mill Christmas Party.

Tony is also an invaluable member of the school student leadership committee, interviewing students who have applied to be part of the leadership program at Burdekin Catholic High School.

Tony supports students by providing them with opportunities to participate in school-based traineeships and school-based apprenticeships in his agricultural business.

 He is the epitome of selfless service to the school community. He believes in the school. He believes in the parish. Tony is an exemplary role model for staff and students at Burdekin Catholic High School.

Pauline Merefield

Pauline Merefield

Teacher, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Bundaberg, Diocese of Rockhampton

Pauline has been a very active member of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and the Holy Rosary Parish Communities for more than 30 years.

Pauline has been an active member of St Joseph’s School community since her children started Preschool in 1991 and has been a Volunteer Catechist teaching Religion in State Schools for 33 years with 25 years as chairperson of the local catechist group.

She has been a Specialist Science Teacher at Catholic schools in Bundaberg and also facilitated enrichment days for all year levels and organised regular intensive days for Science investigation.

She has been Coordinator of OPTIMINDS teams to local, state and national titles for over 25years.

Pauline is very much the champion of the school’s environmental projects and established  a corridor of endangered Woongarra Scrub that Year 4 and 5 students contribute to and maintain every year. This project has been operating for 12 years. Pauline coordinates and takes students on regular Science excursions to learn about the rock pools and endangered Loggerhead turtles at Mon Repos; coastal habitats at Elliott Heads; and wetland ecosystems at Baldwin Swamp.

Pauline demonstrates the very essence of the Spirit of Catholic Education Awards, not only through her educational commitments, but also through her involvement in both the Bundaberg Parish and the wider community.

Jacinta Jensen

Jacinta Jensen

Counsellor, Good Samaritan College, Toowoomba, Diocese of Toowoomba

Through her role as a Counsellor at Good Samaritan College, Toowoomba Jacinta has designed and delivered numerous social and emotional developmental programs that are effective in targeting the needs of young people who have experienced high levels of complex trauma and experiences with youth justice. She tracks each young person’s development and growth from when they enter the College to the moment that they transition out of the college and beyond.

Jacinta is highly responsive to the needs of young people and works with many external agencies to ensure that the services needed for each student and their families are met. She coordinates everything from health to accommodation, financial and educational services.  She advises the students and their families of the support available empowering them to gain the skills and knowledge required to thrive.  

Jacinta spends her own time constructing and delivering food hampers, clothing and furnishings to those in need. She is always willing to do more for those in the community. 

Tracy Nioa

Tracy Nioa

Head of Faculty – Learning Support, St Patrick’s College, Townsville (RI/PJP Schools)

Tracy Nioa values the gifts of every child and demonstrates a commitment to empowering the community to support all children to reach their potential.

As the Head of Faculty – Learning Support she understands the importance of knowing her students and how they learn in order to support them in their individualised learning needs. Tracy’s teaching strategies are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds, while catering for any physical, cognitive, sensory or social/emotional impairments of students.

Tracy guides the Learning Support Faculty as a servant leader. She supports teachers to make informed decisions about the best way to meet the needs of students and her team has flourished under her leadership.

Tracy’s approach is to always put students at the forefront, displaying an empathy and awareness of their needs and the support they require.

Tracy works diligently to ensure students with disability or impairment can access and participate in education. Her transformation of assessment practice has led to improved feedback and helps to tailor work to the needs of individuals, ensuring students are engaged, challenged and motivated. 

With over 20 years engaged in Catholic school communities, and alongside parish programs, Tracy recognises and nurtures the spirituality of each person.

Antoinette Cole (Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award)

Antoinette Cole (Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award)

Senior Education Officer – Indigenous Education, Catholic Education Services, Cairns

Antoinette Cole is a highly efficient, motivated and successful leader in the field of First Nations Education as a result of her actions and ability to develop strong and authentic relationships.

Her determination, grit and outstanding leadership have given a voice to First Nations people and perspectives and her ability to challenge the system and the status quo have culminated in the launch of two significant milestones for the Cairns Diocese this year – the First Nations Education Policy and the Reconciliation Action Plan.

Antoinette achieves successful long-term outcomes by employing models of co-responsibility and seeking opportunities to mentor those she works alongside. As a proud Torres Strait Islander descendant, Antoinette is acutely aware of the complexities affecting First Nations peoples both personally and professionally and provides clarity to ensure First Nations Education and agendas are everyone’s business.

For more than 25 years in education roles, Antoinette has taken the lead regarding First Nations engagement, and has done this at a system level, state-wide and nationally.

She leads with her heart to inspire hope and shared vision amongst her colleagues. She advocates for a future where reconciliation endures, where improvements in learning and teaching pave the way for equitable opportunities for First Nations staff and students to achieve and celebrate success.

Indigenous Education Team (Team Award) (Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award)

Indigenous Education Team (Team Award) (Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award)

Phillippa Johnson, Brad Jarro & Shelley Major, Catholic Education Office, Rockhampton

The Indigenous Education Team at the Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Rockhampton, is committed to ensuring strong educational outcomes for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student, and fostering a widespread appreciation and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and spiritualities. Brad Jarro, Phillippa Johnson and Shelley Major work tirelessly together to achieve these goals and several initiatives stand out as examples of their impact.

They have developed the Indigenous Education Growth and Development Tool which schools use to promote insightful and honest reflection about ways of working toward true reconciliation and deep respect.

The team also works in to support senior students to complete their education, and recent graduates to move successfully into training, full-time employment or further study. Their commitment in collaboration with students, families and school staff is a key part of ensuring success for students.

They provide close support for the broader Indigenous Education Support Team, which includes Regional Liaison Officers, School-based Liaison Officers, and Teacher Assistants who have been specifically engaged to support and extend Indigenous students.

The model that Brad, Phillippa and Shelley set for all colleagues instils hope and deep respect. They build knowledge and understanding with integrity and love and help all become the best versions of themselves. 

Full List of Nominees

Click below to see the full list of 2020 Spirit of Catholic Education Award Nominees.

2020 SOCE Nominees List

Archdiocese of Brisbane

Click below to see the nominees from the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Archdiocese of Brisbane Nominees 2020

Diocese of Cairns

Click below to see the nominees from the Diocese of Cairns.

Nominees Diocese of Cairns 2020

Diocese of Townsville

Click below to see the nominees in the Diocese of Townsville.

Nominees Diocese of Townsville 2020

Diocese of Rockhampton

Click below to see the nominees from the Diocese of Rockhampton.

Nominees Diocese of Rockhampton 2020

Diocese of Toowoomba

Click below to see the nominees in the Diocese of Toowoomba.

Nominees Diocese of Toowoomba 2020

Religious Institute / PJP Schools

Click below to see the nominees from Religious Institute and Public Juridic Persons schools.

Nominees from RI and PJP Schools 2020

Aunty Joan Hendriks Award Nominees (all Dioceses)

Click below to see the nominees for the Aunty Joan Hendricks Reconciliation Award.

Nominees eligible for the Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award 2020

Wednesday 2 September Recipients receive notification from Dr Lee-Anne Perry, Executive Director QCEC of their award
Monday 7 September All recipients announced and published on this website and in social media
Thursday 10 September A feature story on this year’s recipients will be published in the Catholic Leader
Recipients will receive their award presented in conjunction with diocesan events





The Spirit of Catholic Education Awards, including the Aunty Joan Hendriks Spirit of Catholic Education Reconciliation Award are presented annually as part of Catholic Education Week (CEW) celebrations.

The awards aim to recognise those who are making an outstanding contribution within their Catholic education community.

The awards are supported by the Australian Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund (ACSRF), the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and Catholic Church Insurance (CCI), the sponsors of CEW.

Areas For Nomination

Catholic school communities and Catholic school authorities in Queensland are invited to nominate individuals or teams in the community (staff members, parents/carers or volunteers) who are making an outstanding contribution to the life of the community in at least one of the following areas:

  • Showing outstanding integrity in leading a school community or program
  • Implementing change that improves teaching and learning and supports greater equity in education
  • Building Catholic education identity and ethos in ways that support exceptionally life-giving relationships and build hope in school communities or Catholic education agencies
  • Demonstrating excellence in team work that supports and builds Catholic education
  • Demonstrating outstanding service to others in the school education community and beyond

Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award

  • Creating positive change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff and/or developing improved understanding of Indigenous cultural heritage in Catholic school communities.


Please note: nominations should address one or more of the above areas and recognise that the people being nominated go above and beyond their usual area of work.


Nominations must be submitted electronically using the Spirit of Catholic Education Awards 2020 nomination form located on the Catholic Education Week website.

All nominations must include the names of two (2) referees who are familiar with the person being nominated and with the details of the nomination. The judging panel may contact these referees. The nominations must also be endorsed by one of the following as appropriate:

  • if the person/team nominated is a member of a Catholic school/college community the nomination must be endorsed by the school/college principal;
  • if the person/team nominated is a principal of a Catholic school/college the nomination must be endorsed by a member of the school/college leadership team;
  • if the person/team nominated is a director/member of a Catholic school authority the nomination must be endorsed by a member of the Catholic school authority leadership team.

The closing date for nominations is 5.00 pm Friday 26 June 2020.

Confirmation of receipt of the award nomination form will be provided to the person submitting the nomination.

All persons/teams nominated will be considered by the judging panels in accordance with the areas for nomination listed above.

All nominations from diocesan schools and authorities will be short-listed/selected by a diocesan judging panel, or in the case of nominees from Religious Institute/PJP schools by a panel convened by CRA.

Nominations for the Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award will judged by a state-wide panel, facilitated by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC).

Recipients will be endorsed by diocesan Directors. Recipients will be contacted by a member of the judging panel to confirm that they are willing to accept the award.

All persons nominated will receive a congratulatory letter from the Executive Director, QCEC. A certificate in recognition of their nomination will also be forwarded to their diocesan office or school for presentation.

Recipients of the awards will be publicly announced at the end of Term 3.

Recipients (or one team representative) of the Spirit of Catholic Education Awards 2020 will be invited to attend a presentation ceremony. 

Recipients of the Spirit of Catholic Education Awards 2020 will receive a memento and a grant of $500 to support and further the work in their community for which they are recognised.

If you have any questions about the awards or are experiencing difficulties with the online nomination form please email us at:



Maureen Burton

Consultant: Inclusive Education, Brisbane Catholic Education North Service Centre

(Archdiocese of Brisbane)

Nat See Kee

School Officer, Our Lady Help of Christians School

(Diocese of Cairns)

Bronwyn Reguson

President, Parents and Friends Association, St Joseph’s Catholic School, The Strand

(Diocese of Townsville)

 Kathleen Hore

School Support Officer, Religious Education and Mission, Chanel College

(Diocese of Rockhampton)

Emily O’Sullivan

Volunteer, Mary MacKillop Catholic College

(Diocese of Toowoomba)

Dr Shannon O’Gorman

College Counsellor, St James College, Spring Hill

(RI/PJP Schools)

Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Awards

 Robyn Bloomfield

Senior Boarding Supervisor, Holy Spirit College, Cooktown

Deadly Indigenous Education Workers (Team Award)

Emma Shaxson, Melisia Ellis, Marita Murray, Good Shepherd Catholic School, Rasmussen

Jon Sorohan

St Paul’s Catholic Primary School, Woodridge

Ann Barr

Catholic Education Services, Cairns

Yvonne McDonald

St Joseph’s Catholic School, Mount Isa

Gail Jamieson

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Springsure

Cecily Fitzpatrick

Mater Dei Primary School, Toowoomba

Annette Campbell

St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe

Rosemarie Dwyer

St Augustine’s College, Augustine Heights

(Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award Recipient)

Dr Peter Webb
Chisholm Catholic College, Cornubia

Ben Smith 
Mt St Bernard College, Herberton

Sr Lyn Freestone
St Joseph’s Cathoic School, Cloncurry

Sr Mary Stallard
Catholic Parish of Bundaberg

Fr Ray Crowley
St Saviour’s College, St Mary’s College,
St Joseph’s College, Toowoomba

Anthony Young
St Laurence’s College, South Brisbane

Coral Way
Catholic Education Diocese of Rockhampton
(Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award)

Kristy Cameron
St Joseph’s School, Millmerran

Anne-Marie Hammond
St Patrick’s College, Townsville

Fr Lewy Keelty OMI
Iona College, Lindum

Max Martin
St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, Emerald

Shaun Morris
Unity College, Caloundra West

Tom O’Donnell
Holy Spirit College, Manoora

Kathleen Tarttelin
St Clare’s Catholic School, Burdell

Dorothy Watson
St Michael’s School, Palm Island
(Aunty Joan Hendriks Reconciliation Award)

Richard Bassano
St Augustine’s College, Cairns

Dora Luxton
Assisi Catholic College, Upper Coomera

Sr Rita Carroll RSCJ
Stuartholme School, Toowong

Jim Midgley
St Eugene College, Burpengary

Stephen Parle
The Cathedral College, Allenstown

Suzy Sheriff
St Margaret Mary’s College, Aitkenvale

Judy Smith
St Saviour’s Primary School, Toowoomba

Tammi Webber
St Kieran’s Catholic Primary School, Mt Isa

Rebecca McGregor
St Peter’s Primary School, Caboolture

Elizabeth Poulton
Sacred Heart Primary School, Toowoomba

Gavin Rick
St Joseph’s School, Parramatta Park

Kim Bellert
Catholic Education Office, Townsville

Bernadette Mitchell
The Cathedral College, Rockhampton

Brian O’Reilly
St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Virginia

Pelly Morganson
St Teresa’s College, Ingham

St Saviour’s Primary School, Toowoomba

St Joseph’s School, Parramatta Park, Cairns

Sacred Heart Primary School, Yeppoon

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Maryborough

St Anthony’s College, Deeragun

Padua College, Kedron

St Joseph’s School, Murgon

St Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch

Marist College, Emerald

St Catherine’s Catholic College, The Whitsundays

St Peter’s Catholic Primary School, Caboolture

St Mary’s College, Toowoomba

Catholic Education Office, Townsville

Mt Alvernia College, Kedron

Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne

St Augustine’s College, Augustine Heights

St Joseph’s College, Toowoomba

St Joseph’s School, Park Avenue

St Therese’s Catholic School, Monto & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Biloela

St Mary’s School, Bowen

St Mary’s Catholic College,Woree

St James College, Brisbane

St Francis Xavier’s School, Manunda

Holy Spirit School, Cranbrook

Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Rockhampton

St Anthony’s School, Toowoomba

Marymount Primary School, Burleigh Waters

San Sisto College, Carina

Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Toowoomba

Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Rockhampton

Shalom College, Bundaberg

Good Shepherd Parish, Mt Isa

St Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch

Sacred Heart Primary School, Toowoomba

St Elizabeth’s Primary School, Tarragindi

St Teresa’s College, Abergowrie

St Monica’s College, Cairns

Sacred Heart School, Yeppoon

Sacred Heart School, Yeppoon

Good Counsel College, Innisfail

Catholic Education, Archdiocese of Brisbane

St Ursula’s College, Toowoomba

Holy Spirit School, Townsville

Chanel College, Gladstone

Ryan Catholic College, Townsville

Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Cairns