Frank Pearce receives 2011 Brother John Taylor Award



Brother John Taylor Award 2011 News Story
Frank Pearce receives the 2011 Brother John Taylor Award from Chairman of the CEC NSW and Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP. Photo: Marc Skinner Redbelly Photography

Frank Pearce has received the Catholic Education Commission of New South Wales’ 2011 Brother John Taylor Award for his achievements in supporting Aboriginal education in the Catholic system.

Chairman of the CEC NSW, Bishop of Parramatta Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, presented Frank with the award on Wednesday 18 April in the Polding Centre in Sydney.

The annual Bro John Taylor Award honours an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Catholic education in NSW – one that has benefitted the Catholic education community generally, has facilitated the work of others in their professional role, and has strengthened the ethos of Catholic education.

Past winners from the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta are Tricia Maidens (2009), Br Patrick Lovegrove FSP (2002) and the late Barry Dwyer (1998).

In presenting Frank with the award, Bishop Anthony said the field of nominees is usually strong, “which makes the choice of winner a difficult one for the Award Committee. This year was no exception”.

“The Award Committee and the CEC NSW are very pleased that the 2011 Award is presented to Frank Pearce. Frank has not been a career teacher as most award winners have been; and he never even knew Bro John. He is chosen for his achievements in supporting Aboriginal education in the Catholic system,” Bishop Anthony said.

“At the same time the choice of Frank recognises the importance of the field of Aboriginal education itself, a field in which Frank is the first to say he has had many wonderful collaborators.

“There are many ways of measuring Frank’s diverse contribution to expanding the opportunities and consolidating the outcomes for his Indigenous brothers and sisters.

“Here’s one: in Frank’s time at the CEC the number of Aboriginal students in NSW Catholic schools has doubled! Here's another: not only are so many more enrolling but they are staying at school longer and succeeding. Now Frank cannot claim all the credit for that, but his hard work and influence have been major contributing factors in building confidence in Catholic schooling for Aboriginal children with families, principals, advisers, communities – and of course the ones it’s all for, the students.

“In addition to building confidence he has helped build capacity, teaching us all the importance of practising what we preach when it comes to ensuring that Catholic schools are welcoming, encouraging and challenging for Aboriginal students and their families.

“We all know that Frank is the real deal. He is a humble man but tenacious and fearless in the interests of Aboriginal students. His is a great success story for the Aboriginal community and he is a highly regarded role model for Aboriginal students, teachers and workers generally.

“Frank might never have known Bro John Taylor but Bro John would I think have been delighted by Frank’s work and by the fact that he attended a Christian Brothers’ School – St Mary’s Cathedral school – not because he had a beautiful cathedral chorister's voice but because St Mary's was the local school when he was a boy in Woolloomooloo.

“Amongst his early jobs Frank was a bus conductor (some of us are old enough to remember conductors on Sydney buses) a bus driver and a clerk at Sydney buses. After that he joined the Commonwealth bureaucracy as an Aboriginal Employment Officer and eventually found his way to the CEC in 1997.

“It’s during his period as State Co-ordinator for Aboriginal Education at the CEC that he has made his mark. Most of you know that part of the story and it is to honour that that you are here today.

“What you may not know is that Frank was in his 30s when he successfully completed his secondary education! Since then he has continued to improve himself through further education and experience. He completed a degree in Adult Education in 1999 and has recently completed a Master’s Degree in Education.

“So Frank's experience has been varied and colourful and he has brought all that to his work in Catholic education, as well as a personal passion to advance the educational opportunities for Indigenous Australians through advocacy, representation and pastoral care.

“Frank’s story is unique and he has made a remarkable contribution to Aboriginal Catholic education in NSW, one that inspires all of us in this room. By his example and experience he has had enormous influence not just in NSW Catholic schools but beyond, in the non-Catholic, non-NSW and non-school spheres, including most recently university education through his work with student-teachers at the University of Notre Dame Australia.

“Frank stands well in the company of past winners such as Peter Turner, Bro Michael Flanagan fms, Bro Jude Butcher cfc and last year’s awardees Glen Roff and Barry Bermingham.

“We congratulate Frank on winning this prestigious award in Catholic education.”

Read Bishop Anthony’s Address in full

For more information about the work of the Catholic Education Commission of New South Wales, visit

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