We are currently enjoying one of the longest campaigning periods leading into an Australian Federal Election. I always find electoral campaigning to be an intriguing time. Much is said and refuted from all sides of politics. What I have noticed over the more recent political campaigns in both State and Federal elections is the increased media spotlight placed on past statements made by some of the politicians. In some cases they refer to statements, photographs or interviews from more than 15 years ago. It appears that what has been previously said or done will never be forgotten. This is even more relevant over recent years due to the increased availability and use of the many sources of social media. We are constantly reminding our student body of the dangers of using social media in an inappropriate manner. In some cases, the young men involved are too young to be using these communication channels and get themselves into trouble for comments that they may have made or inviting the unwanted attention of predators who scan these communication mediums for purposes of ill intent. I am constantly surprised by how many of our young men think that much of their communications are private and not available to others. The fact that other staff members and I end up with the communications clearly illustrates that such thoughts are very naïve. I have been concerned by the increased number of matters that we are required to investigate in regard to the misuse of social media.

I am particularly concerned with matters whereby our College crest is used by others or when statements about staff or the photo-shopping of staff members is being done. In almost all of these instances I am advised by the young man in front of me that the picture or statement is done “as a joke” and not meant to be offensive. During this morning’s whole school assembly I was very clear to all of the students that under no circumstances should they ever use our College crest or photograph of a staff member without the College’s or staff member’s clear permission. As adults, we all understand that what is humorous to some is not always the case with others and the easiest and best way to deal with this is not to get involved in making or distributing prank photographs, comments etc. Likewise, each of the young men must also be very aware of the types of photographs and comments that they may have made or shown in social media platforms. Once downloaded they can very rarely be destroyed or prevented from being viewed. Their name will always be associated with this material. The young men were told today that they should spend this weekend reviewing all of their files, particularly anything on our school laptops or stored in our systems, and destroy any inappropriate materials immediately. As College Principal I do not want to be placed in a position whereby I have to be talking to parents and students about withdrawing their enrolment at the College due to the inappropriate and poor decisions in regard to the use of social media. I would also ask all parents, carers and other adults who spend time with our young men to constantly remind them of the responsibilities required when communicating to others at any time, especially on social media, when they are not face to face conversations. I would also encourage ask that parents and carers assist their sons in ensuring that any inappropriate materials or files are deleted as soon as possible.

Today’s assembly was also the last time that the whole school would meet as a community due to block exams. It was a time for us to farewell Ms Zoe Morgan and wish Mr Kevin Van der Weide well in his coming period of leave. Both are long standing members of the College community. Ms Morgan has been a member of the St Patrick’s College staff since 2004. Zoe is currently the Dean of Administration. She has made an immense contribution to the St Patrick’s community and will be very much missed by the staff and student bodies. Mr Van der Weide is taking leave for the remainder of this year. This has been a sudden decision. Kevin’s wife, Mary Ann, has been unwell since the end of last year and has been undertaking treatment since this time. Kevin has decided to take leave to spend more time with his wife whilst she undertakes further treatment for the latter half of this year. Please keep Kevin, Mary Ann and their daughters in your thoughts and prayers over this time.

This Saturday is our annual Back to Shorncliffe Day. This year we are hosting St Edmund’s College. This is also a significant day for our College Old Boys and they usually arrive at Curlew Park in large numbers. It also the last round of the AIC Football and Rugby seasons. Interestingly, both of the Firsts teams for Football and Rugby are presently second on their respective ladders and wins this weekend could see both teams become premiers (depending on other results in Rugby). This would be the first time that this would have been achieved. It would be wonderful to see as many of our students and community present at the grounds to support all of the teams and stay until the end of the First XI and First XV fixtures.

This Saturday is also the last day at Curlew for many of our Year 12 families. The College Leadership Team extend an invitation to each of you to join us for morning tea commencing at 10:00am in the Function Centre at Curlew, to thank you for all that you have contributed to the sport at St Patrick’s through your years of association with the College.

Last week, a Discussion Paper regarding the student reporting processes was circulated. The purpose of this paper is to gather feedback from our parent body in regard to our current reporting practices and for further considerations that we should take into account for the future. There is a parent forum this evening to gather further information as well. I look forward to meeting with many parents to discuss future opportunities in this area.

God bless,

Mr Chris Mayes - College Principal