Deputy Principals’ Column
Faith and Mission
Last week, on 14 and 15 June, I, along with Mr Chris Church, attended Catholic Education Melbourne’s Religious Education Conference. This year the conference focus was in line with Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year theme of Mercy. And for those two days I, along with other Catholic school educators, prayed, participated, listened, dialogued and searched for an answer to the question “what is this mercy?”
One of the Keynote speakers was Dr Maureen O’Connell from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and her address had the audience pondering on the significance of mercy in our work and in our lives.
At the heart of it, for us as a Catholic community, mercy is a love that does not judge or condemn, it is forgiving, compassionate and tender and it is an experience of grace that requires deep thought and contemplation.
But how challenging it can be for us to live out this mercy, when once again we have recently been left shocked at hearing of yet more incidents of violence in our world, leaving us tremendously saddened. The loss of innocent human life brought to light for us the realisation of the deeply wounded world we live in. I can’t help but reflect on what this idea of mercy means and how we can all at times be challenged to live out mercy during a time of such conflict.
But as true followers of Jesus, as a faith filled Lasallian community, we open the doors to our hearts and minds, we remember that we are a people of compassion, love and forgiveness. If we ourselves wish to be witnesses of mercy, we need to encounter mercy.
As a faith filled Catholic, Lasallian community the work of the heart and matters of the heart go far beyond just charity and social justice. We also need to be witnesses of mercy by welcoming difference. We need to attempt to engage in healing those most wounded and be awakened to the presence of a loving God who is always in our midst, so that we can walk out into the world knowing He is always with us.
So in light of everything our world has encountered and endured in the past fortnight, we pray for all people around the world, who have been victims of terror, violence, heartache and despair in the hope that the world will find peace and all peoples can be united.
We commit ourselves to showing mercy and making God’s Kingdom a reality in the world.
Through prayerful attention to God’s presence in our lives, may we journey forward on a path that leads us closer to being united as one people in our heavenly Fathers embrace.
Be present among us as we face terror, violence and conflict in our world,
And heal and restore what is best in humanity.
We pray especially for the people who have been victims of terror and violence, the innocent who have lost their lives and their families. And we live in hope, that you will show them the path through times of darkness
St John Baptist de La Salle – Pray For Us
Live Jesus in our hearts – Forever
World Youth Day
Daniel Hart in Year 10 is about to embark on a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. This will occur from 26–31 July. World Youth Day is a gathering of young Catholics from around the world connecting with each other as faith filled pilgrims to celebrate God’s love and mercy.
We wish Daniel a safe, faith filled and spirited journey and we pray that while Daniel is away that his heart is open to the joy and wonder of God’s presence.
Mrs Rana Brogan
Deputy Principal — Faith and Mission
The new Child Safe Standards introduced through Ministerial Order No. 870 come into force for all Victorian schools on 1 August 2016. From this date De La Salle College must be compliant with the standards or have a plan in place to be fully compliant by the end of the 2016 school year.
Following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, the Victorian Government’s 2012–2013 Betrayal of Trust Parliamentary Inquiry found that more must be done to prevent and respond to child abuse in all organisations working with children. The Betrayal of Trust report highlighted gaps and inconsistencies in child-safe practices in organisations and recommended immediate steps for the safety of children through the introduction of a comprehensive set of child-safe standards.
On Monday afternoon we were joined by Monique Blom, National Manager of the Safeguarding Children Program from the Australian Childhood Foundation. Monique has extensive experience in clinical interventions around issues of child development, child protection, Indigenous service provision and evaluation. She has previously worked for KPMG in their Health and Human Services Practice and was recently employed as the Assistant Director Out-of-Home Care Reform for the Department of Human Services in Victoria. Monique has vast experience in working collaboratively with non-government, government and corporate organisations and her presentation highlighted the importance of our work in this area. Monique emphasised that as professionals who work with children and young people, we play a vital role in protecting children from abuse by responding and reporting any incidents, disclosures or suspicions. We are often best placed to identify signs and behaviours that may indicate that a child or young person has been subject to abuse.
Monique referenced a survey conducted by the Australian Childhood Foundation (2010) whereby 90% of adults surveyed believed that the community needs to be better informed about the problem of child abuse in Australia, “but unless they come face to face with the issue, collectively Australians rate petrol prices, public transport and roads as issues of greater concern than child abuse.” A startling statistic in light of the broader community impact of this issue.
At De La Salle College, we have used the new Child Safe Standards as an opportunity to look at our policies and processes to ensure all of our children and young people are kept safe. We are working to build a supportive and inclusive College community whereby all students are empowered enough to voice concerns when they arise. Over the course of Term 2 we have:
- audited our current policies and procedures practiced here at De La Salle College
- developed new policies: Child Protection Policy, Child Protection – Failure to Protect Policy and the Child Protection – Grooming Policy
- drafted a staff code of conduct and a student code of conduct
- developed new risk management procedures
- developed an Implementation and Communication Plan, and we have
- developed a series of recommendations put forward to the Executive Team and the College.
If you would like to talk about any of our work in this area, please give me a call.
Uniform and Student Presentation
Since the beginning of term, the Directors of Students, supported by the House and Year Level Coordinators, have conducted a uniform blitz. I would like to extend my thanks to the parents and families who have encouraged our young men to attend to their uniform and grooming.
The College uniform is an important part of our identity as a Lasallian College. Our iconic blue and gold blazers, the De La Salle uniform, is well-recognised and regarded within the community. I am really encouraged by the way in which our young men have responded to this challenge. As a College community, we anticipate and expect our young men will wear their uniform with pride. In addition, our uniform is a way to build social cohesion.
Social cohesion is said to be high when nearly all members of a society voluntarily “play by the rules of the game,” and when tolerance for differences is demonstrated in the day-to-day interactions across social groups within that society. Having attended a recent Positive Psychology Conference, my colleague Andrew Wozencroft noted one researcher’s commentary on social cohesion and cooperation. First are the institutional rules that guide all types of organisations. Second are the stabilising traditions within the organisations themselves. Our Student Uniform Policy articulates our general expectations in this area and our consistency of approach will ensure these rules become the norm. Again, I’d like to thank those parents who have called to express their support of this work and those who have contacted us and encouraged us to maintain a consistent approach.
We are seeking LEGO® donations for our students. The Counselling Team regularly run sessions for our younger boys at lunchtime. On one level, these sessions seek to support our boys as they develop new friendships across the College. On another level, they fire up the boys’ imaginations and help them to make their own creations through playful learning experiences. The sessions also help the boys to develop stronger critical thinking skills, grow their ideas and build creative problem solving skills. If you have any LEGO® you’d like to share with us, we’d be sure to put it to good use. Lego can be donated via either reception.
Computer Science and Programming Club
Year 12 student Stephan Kokkas is leading two lunchtime clubs looking at how coding works, and the way in which code is constructed so that computers can read commands. Over the course of Term 3, Stephan hopes the students will develop programming skills (including HTML and CSS) to build a fully functional website.
Recently, many educational researchers have argued that for Australia to succeed in a digital age, we should be “starting the digital education of our students in the beginning years of primary school, introducing skills such as computational thinking, problem solving and computer coding.” For schools like us, fostering a culture of innovation and curiosity is critical to student engagement. Recently, I read about how Curtin University’s undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship exposes students to business development activities with the goal of helping them launch their own enterprises. The way students are arranged in working teams reflects the realities of the contemporary workforce.
In taking on the role as guide and mentor, Stephan is certainly championing a hands-on, student centred learning experience.
Ms Lisa Harkin
Deputy Principal – Students