School Advisory Council

The key functions of the St Columba's School Advisory Council are to provide advice on education matters relating to whole of parish including the school.

The purposes of the School Advisory Council are to:

  • act as an advisory body to the parish priest and principal, on matters concerning education in the parish
  • act as a forum for discussion on matters concerning education in the parish primary school
  • provide a link between the parish priest, principal, teachers and parishioners in relation to the provision of Catholic education in the parish community
  • promote community development by fostering a strong interrelationship between parish and the parish primary school, Catholic secondary colleges and pre-schools

Responsibilities include:

  • promote the Catholic ethos of the school and to support the Religious Education programs
  • provide advice on the development and review of school policies
  • plan for the future of the parish primary school and its ability to accommodate future enrolments
  • provide advice on budget planning and finance-related matters
  • contribute to the selection process for the school principal
  • ensure the appropriate provision of faith development and RE programs for children attending Government schools
  • foster adult education in faith.

School Advisory Council

Father John Petrulis

As Parish Priest serving the communities of Sacred Heart St Kilda and St Columba Elwood for the last ten years. Our school community is a special focus of my ministry. I strive to work collaboratively with our Parish Team to support our principal, staff, children and their families.  Fostering a living relationship to our wider Parish community which includes the wonderful ongoing education of service to those in most need with our Sacred Heart Mission is also another call of my heart with you.

Daniella Maddalena

Daniella became the principal of St Columba's at the beginning of 2015. She was previously the vice principal of St Joan of Arc.

Bern Bradley

Bern is the Deputy Principal of St Columba's and leads the St Columba's Student Wellbeing Services.

Rossi Biddle

Rossi has one daughter at St Columba's, Abi.  Originally from Canterbury, England, Rossi moved to Australia in 2006 and now happily calls St Columba's community home.  Rossi currently is Founder and CEO of two businesses, one in the world of gaming/esports and the other in sports marketing.  With an entrepreneurial spirit, he approaches his professional life with an attitude to actively seek out change along with critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.  Sport however has always been the foundation for Rossi which has seen him and family members have successful professional careers.  Rossi is excited to be a part of the school advisory council and is looking forward to continuing the work previous councils have achieved.

Michael Ilott

Michael has two children at St Columba's, Clare and Eloise. Michael currently holds the position of Director of Senior Campus at Xavier College having also been the Deputy Principal at CBC St Kilda. Michael has extensive experience in Catholic education and prior to moving to Melbourne was the Director of Pastoral Care and Wellbeing at St Patrick's College, Strathfield (Sydney). He previously held senior leadership positions as a Human Resources Manager within the finance and commodities sector.

Elly Kandra

Elly Kandra has two children at St Columba's Primary and was driven to join the School Board to share in the spirit of acceptance and inclusion the school promotes so well. Elly loves the strong community at St Columba's and is particularly appreciative of it having left her own community behind in Sydney some years ago. A long career in corporate communications and stakeholder engagement provides her with a great set of skills to give back via her work on the School Board. She says the school is always so focused on what it does best - that is nurturing our children, teaching them how to make the most of their place in the world, as well as providing them with a globally recognised education via the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. It may be the Little School with a Big Heart but according to Elly, it's the best kept secret in South Eastern Melbourne. And when it comes to your children's education, why would you not start by choosing the very best for them?

Seamus Power

Seamus' son Botao is a student at St Columba's.  He is an experienced business leader having led a number of companies as CEO and Managing Director. Seamus has a Masters in Business Administration, is a qualified Engineer and is passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education and its importance to Australia's future prosperity. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is looking forward to contributing with the board, teaching staff and parish community to continue the positive path that St Columba's is on.

Nick Mitchell

Nick is the Managing Director of an asset management company, leading the business in its sales and marketing with his goal being to help everyday Australians meet their financial goals. Nick has 23 years industry experience across asset management, financial technology and advice. He also maintains a strong connection to theatrical arts both personally and professionally. With two daughters at St Columba's Bette and Rosie Nick remains committed to the ongoing success and growth of the little school with a big heart.

Leanne Barnes

Leanne holds a degree in Fine Art and post graduate qualifications in Public Policy and Project Management.  She is driven by making a difference and delivering outcomes, and is experienced in economic, industry, research and business development. Always working to find innovative and creative solutions to complex problems or to streamline processes, she is looking forward to contributing to the Board and the development of St Columba's Primary School.  Leanne is currently Senior Advisor to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Enterprise at Swinburne University of Technology where she is heavily engaged in projects and strategies relating to the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution.  She is interested in the latest developments in work and skill development, and best practice in preparing students for their work future, in a world experiencing rapid change brought about by the impact of digitalisation and advanced technologies.

Susan Nicholson

Susan has two children at St Columba's, Clancy and Ella.  She has extensive experience across financial services and retail industries with well known brands like Australia Post, Wesfarmers, WEX and GE.  A seasoned marketing and product leader, Susan enjoys creating better customer and business solutions through both process efficiency and innovation particularly in relation to new technology. Susan is an advocate for diversity and has been involved in Women in Payments for many years serving on both the board and awards Committee.  Susan holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics and a Masters in Marketing. A school that gives a child the confidence to feel they can be their best is a story Susan is keen to play a role in.

Saskia Koffijberg

In May 2019 we moved from Holland to Melbourne. Back home I was a funeral director for relatively young people with more personal wishes regarding their funeral. Coming here, I wanted to focus on our two children first before I would start working again. We chose this school because it is small, the student-teacher ratio is very good and even though I am not religious, I do see the added value of learning from a Christian point of view to care about others and nature. Our eldest girl (Winter) is currently in 1/2 and she loves it. Her English went from zero to 10 in a matter of months. As Chair of the PFA I look forward to creating some fun and memorable events.

2021 Meeting Dates

February Tuesday 9h
March Tuesday 9th
April No Meeting
May Tuesday 4th
June Tuesday 15th
July Tuesday 27th
August No Meeting
September Tuesday 7th
October Tuesday 26th
November Tuesday 30th (AGM)
December No Meeting


If you would like to learn more or are interested in joining the School Advisory Council, please contact Daniella Maddalena.

What our parents & students say

"St Columba's offers so much more than just an excellent education program. When you enrol your child at St Columba's you join the vibrant supportive community. We couldn't be happier at St Columba's."

Parent of Year 2 and 3 Students