New Catholic Secondary College set for James Cook University



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L to R: Cairns Catholic Education Services Acting Executive Director Dr Sally Towns, JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding, JCU Cairns Campus Director David Craig and Bishop of Cairns James Foley at the JCU site of the proposed Catholic college. Image: Supplied

A new Catholic High School in the northern beaches of Cairns is set to give parents and guardians of the Douglas Shire more education options in a few years.

It was announced yesterday a proposed 7-12 Catholic Secondary College located at James Cook University in Smithfield received accreditation from the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board.

Catholic Education’s Director School Effectiveness (Secondary), Dora Luxton said the school has passed the first hurdle to having the school established.

“We’re now working on the master plan and the innovative design for the school in preparation for the capital funding application and at this stage, the college is on track to open in 2022,” she said.

The new school was first announced in June this year and it set to be the first Catholic secondary school located on an Australian university campus.

The new school is also set to have and on-site childcare centre operated by Catholic Early Learning and Care.

Catholic Education’s National Executive Director, Jacinta Collins, said at the initial announcement the new  school would create opportunities for students and teachers.

“There are already discussions about students from the new on-campus Catholic college, and from a number of local schools, accessing university courses in their senior years,”she said.

“Students will be the big winners from this partnership, which heralds exciting opportunities for the future for Catholic education.”

The college is expected to open in 2022 for Year 7 enrolments, then grow a year level annually until Year 12 was offered in 2027.

It will have 700-800 students when fully operational and construction costs would be in the order of $30 million.

As part of the process in getting the school up and running, Catholic Education are hosting a consultation session in October for interested parties.

“As part of this process we’ve planned a listening forum for the community on 17 October, from 2.00-4.00pm in JCU’s Crowther Lecture Theatre (A3),” Ms Luxton said.

“People who are interested in the school, particularly families considering future enrolments, can come along and share their hopes and dreams for the new college and have their questions answered.”

Attendees at the listening forum will meet and hear from Catholic Education’s Manager Planning and Building Mark Stallman, JCU’s Director Cairns Campus David Craig, and Dora Luxton.

Expressions of interest are being sought for a community consultative committee which will be a community sounding board for the new college’s management committee and reference groups.

These groups will establish partnership programs between JCU and all Catholic secondary colleges in the Cairns Diocese, to begin as soon as possible.

Further information is available at or by emailing

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