Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending the EREA National Principal’s meeting. This year the gathering was held in Canberra and the theme of the conference was Looking Back – Looking forward: Setting out for home. Much of the conference was based around the Papal Encyclical: Laudato Si andhow our schools are dealing with issues of sustainability now and into the future. We were very fortunate to have guest speakers such as Trish Hindmarsh, Chris Uhlman, Dr Tim Flannery (Australian of the Year) and Br Peter Harney. We were also...
Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending the EREA National Principal’s meeting. This year the gathering was held in Canberra and the theme of the conference was Looking Back – Looking forward: Setting out for home. Much of the conference was based around the Papal Encyclical: Laudato Si andhow our schools are dealing with issues of sustainability now and into the future. We were very fortunate to have guest speakers such as Trish Hindmarsh, Chris Uhlman, Dr Tim Flannery (Australian of the Year) and Br Peter Harney. We were also joined by chosen delegates from many EREA schools across the country for one of the days. Not every school had a delegate at the conference but we were fortunate to have Luke Royes selected from our community. The delegates met as a group and shared ideas about what is happening in this space within their communities and what possibilities might be available to schools regarding sustainable practices, planning and actions.
On Thursday morning, all the Principals and delegates gathered at the National Arboretum for two purposes. The first was to be a part of a national apology to victims of child abuse by staff members from Christian Brothers and EREA schools. Dr Wayne Tinsey and Mr John Crowley (Principal – St Patrick’s College Ballarat) spoke very passionately during this service and, apart from the delegates and principals, it was also attended by some victims of abuse and members of the press. There can be no doubt that the recent findings of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse found numerous instances of abuse had occurred at Christian Brothers and EREA schools over a number of decades. This is something that our schools must acknowledge, accept responsibility and ensure that we put steps into place to ensure that such atrocities never happen again. There have certainly been significant changes to the EREA Child Protection policies, guidelines and practices over more recent years. Currently there is also much work being done to ensure that there is some form of alignment of child protection practices across all Catholic authorities. This year our child protection contacts, Darren Kearney, Janet Garside, Frank Torrisi, Amira Bosnjak, John Zappala and I, have also been extensively in-serviced in the changes that have just been implemented.
I have included (below) some of the text from the apology delivered from Dr Wayne Tinsey as a part of the service.
“In this time of Pentecost - a time when the spirit provides us with the courage to find a new voice - we, the leaders of Edmund Rice Education Australia, on behalf of our communities offer the following apology. Today we begin a journey of major change by publicly acknowledging the sexual abuse of students in our schools; some dead, some alive, some unknown.
Today we directly acknowledge the scarring harm of sexual abuse as abhorrent, sinful, shameful and disgraceful; and we also acknowledge whatever was done can never be undone …
In knowledge that, to many, the offering of an apology at this time may seem unhelpful, even possibly adding to the pain in some cases, we offer it sincerely in the hope that it is seen as a significant and necessary step towards healing, reconciliation and ongoing redress. In the true spirit of Pentecost, we pray that Edmund Rice Education Australia has found a new voice in laying stronger foundations for support, re-connection, inclusion and on-going care for all who have suffered in this way.
I am sorry. We are sorry. We commit to a liberated future.
This text is only a part of what Dr Tinsey had said and the whole service can be found on the following link Erea National Apology 2017
The discussions around sustainability will lead to EREA setting a vision statement for our schools and guidelines and practices for us to ensure that sustainability becomes an important part of our planning into the future.
In the feedback that I have received from staff and parents regarding our five-year vision statement, the considerations around green spaces and sustainability were also very clearly articulated. This information will also become a part of the discussions and considerations of the College Master Planning committee.
I would like to remind all parents that this semester’s school reports will be sent electronically rather than in hard copies as in previous years. The reports can be accessed through the Parent Portal as was the case for the first term reports. The added reports specifically designed for Year 11 and Year 12 students will also be forwarded electronically. The students will also have access to their own reports through their Student Café.
This evening and tomorrow are significant days on our co-curricular calendar. Firstly, this evening our Chessmen can secure several premierships and the overall aggregate school championship. This has never happened before in our College history. I certainly wish the team, very ably led by Nathaniel Lake, the very best in their competition. Secondly, on Saturday we are celebrating our Back to Shorncliffe Day. This year, we will continue the tradition of inviting our Old Boys back to Curlew Park but also take the opportunity to thank our senior students and their parents for all that they have done within sport over their years at the College. I am sure that it will be a very emotional day for many of our Year 12 students. Our Music Department will also be performing from 10:00am until 2:00pm. This year we host Padua College.
I would once again urge all the adult spectators to assist us to demonstrate good sportsmanship and respect to officials during the games, especially during moments when actions become heated on the fields. The words and actions from the sidelines can have a direct impact on what happens on the field and therefore we are so adamant that our own student cheering and support should be positive and respectful.
Last Friday, and over the weekend, 11 of our students were involved in the inaugural Middle School Music and Choral State Honours Program (SHEP) for South East Queensland. In all, 68 Queensland schools were represented, and with thousands of students nominated, only 430 musicians from Years 5–8 were selected. Our young were involved in workshops with many students from other schools and were conducted and trained by well-known and leading musical and choral conductors. The program culminated in a final concert on Sunday evening. I would particularly like to thank Kate Albury for ensuring that our students had an opportunity to be involved.
On Tuesday evening, I also had the pleasure of attending our second music performance evening for the year. The evening particularly highlighted students from Years 5-9. It was a most entertaining evening and the organisation and performances were excellent. I am sure that there were many very proud parents watching through the evening. Mr Geoff Samuels (Director of Culture), Mrs Kate Albury, Mrs Kelly Jensen, Mrs Claire Devine, Ms Monique Matthews, Mr Kane McNally, Mr Andre Reginato and Mr Nic Consiglio have done wonderful jobs in forming our ensembles, bands and choirs and the future looks very strong in this area based on what I saw and heard on Tuesday.
Over the past weeks, we have also been able to congratulate students who have achieved national representation for their respective sports. Recently Matthew Palmer (Lifesaving), and Josh Andrews (Water Polo) have been selected into their respective Australian teams. I was also recently notified by the Queensland Olympic Council that Matthew Palmer was a successful recipient of the Pierre De Coubertin Award for 2017. This is an award given to elite athletes who display the Olympic ideals.