St Joseph’s School was opened by the Sisters of St Joseph, the Brown Josephites, in 1970 as part of the South Murwillumbah Parish. Sister Magdalen McDonald was the founding principal of St Joseph’s School. St Joseph’s School brought together the communities of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, South Murwillumbah, Little Flower School, Tumbulgum, and St Brigid’s School, Burringbar.

The Josephite Sisters continued at St Joseph’s School until 1982, when they were farewelled from the school community, having made a wonderful contribution to Catholic Education and, in particular, to the parish. 


In 1979 extensions to the School were completed, which included a renovated library building, an enclosed basement and a new administration block.

Mr Frank Godfrey was the first lay principal in 1983, serving until 1996.

In 1994 further extensions were undertaken to add a classroom, a new library and a shelter shed.

Extensions were completed in 1998 when a new classroom, staffroom, storeroom, and library extensions were added. During 2007, over one million dollars worth of refurbishment and extensions took place at St Joseph’s. All classrooms were renovated, and a new administration centre was built. In 2008, St Joseph’s finalised the installation of interactive whiteboards in all classrooms.


The devastating flood of 2017 had a major impact on Murwillumbah and the surrounding communities, with South Murwillumbah suffering heavily. The entire ground floor of the School was destroyed, including the library, administration, toilets, storerooms, uniform store, and canteen. 

Major restoration works were completed throughout the year, with the School bouncing back after a two-million-dollar reinstatement construction process. The library was moved upstairs, a new contemporary toilet block was installed, the playground was returfed and fenced, and redesigned administration area was completed.

In 2018-19 the School was awarded a School Revitalisation and Invigoration Grant through the Diocese of Lismore Catholic Schools Office. A new outdoor flexible learning space was created upstairs. 

This area allows greater spill-out flexibility of learning spaces for all classes and improved carriageway and safety of students, staff and visitors when moving around the learning areas upstairs.


In 2022 the school and surrounding community again endured a devastating flood. The resilience of this school community and its long history in the community of South Murwillumbah continues to be evident. 

Once again, the entire ground floor of the School was destroyed, including administration, toilets, storerooms, uniform store, staffroom and canteen. 

The School has been reinstated using materials to mitigate risk and loss in the event of future flooding.

2023 is a new year with the school community brimming with hope and positivity for a successful and enjoyable year ahead.